Ted Cruz Takes Aim at the Dark Side of AI

By Haley Kennington

During a recent briefing from the White House press room, the president’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, denounced videos putting President Biden in an unflattering light as “cheap fakes” and “misinformation.” These entertaining videos – which certainly do not show the president in the most favorable light – will undoubtedly be the topic of debates by the pundit class during this year’s presidential election. However, Ms. Jean-Pierre went overboard when she compared them to the very real problem of “Deep Fakes,” which are fraudulent, non-consensual intimate imagery (NCII) used by bad actors to cause serious harm to innocent people. 

Unlike the videos of Mr. Biden, NCIIs are images of real people that appear lifelike and real but are, in fact, fake, often created by artificial intelligence and used to generate “revenge porn” images of innocent people. These spurious images never disappear from the Internet and are a source of anguish and humiliation to the victim that can last a lifetime. 

Fortunately, however, Sen. Ted Cruz is on the case. He recently introduced a bipartisan bill, the Take It Down Now Act, that will terminate this practice once and for all.

The legislation, which already has broad support among his Democratic and Republican colleagues, is quickly moving through the U.S. Congress, as well as the Senate Commerce Committee which held a hearing on it just days ago. 

Sen. Cruz’s legislation couldn’t come at a better time because the problem with NCIIs is only getting worse.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that a group of New Jersey high school girls found fake pornographic images of themselves online. In another case, a 14-year-old and nine other students in a Texas high school also found AI-created images of themselves using their Instagram photos. The advent of AI has made this problem commonplace, with an estimated 90 percent of these images being of women. Due to the remarkable discrepancy between the two genders, the Cyber Rights Organization has deemed the disproportionate amount of fake depictions of females as a form of “gender-based violence”.

Congress addressed this issue for the first time in 2022, enacting legislation that gave NCII victims cause of action to sue the individuals responsible. However, despite its good intentions, the 2022 bill has proven inadequate in addressing this problem and bringing those affected immediate relief.

While allowing recourse to the courts (which is what the 2022 bill did) is critical, anyone who has ever been involved in litigation knows that it tends to be time-consuming, nerve-wracking, and expensive. Worst of all, the NCII images often remain online during the entire lengthy process. 

Sen. Cruz’s Take It Down Now Act will expedite the relief victims receive by forcing Big Tech to act faster to protect the victims.

Upon notification that such an image exists and was posted online, websites and social media companies would be required to remove the image within 48 hours. These companies would also be required to make good-faith efforts to remove copies of the fraudulent images, and those that fail to abide by the bill’s terms could face discipline from the Federal Trade Commission.

Forcing Big Tech to have more accountability over their platforms’ content is long overdue.

For too long, social media companies have hidden behind Section 230, which holds them harmless for content posted on their platforms. The Take It Down Now Act fixes this problem — at least when it comes to NCIIs — in one fell swoop, serving as a commonsense deterrent against creating and disseminating such harmful content. 

Victims would still retain their ability to sue the NCII generator under the current law, but once the Take It Down Act passes, the offending images in question will not remain available online throughout the entire legal process. 

It is heartening to see lawmakers from across the political aisle join to protect victims, particularly young women and children, from having to continue experiencing this unnecessary pain.

And, of course, there aren’t enough kudos to give to Sen. Cruz. Over the last decade, he has proven to be one of the most effective (if not the most effective) legislators in Washington.

In this era where conservative politicians often tend to say all the right things but do little to move tangible solutions down the field, Sen. Cruz and his staff have consistently shown fearlessness in rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty.  Day in and day out, they work tirelessly to create practical frameworks that work for both sides of the aisle.

We’ve seen this with everything from the sensible amendments that Sen. Cruz introduced during the Obamacare repeal debates to the many bills he has introduced with broad bipartisan coalitions, and now today with the Take It Down Now Act.

Sen. Cruz ought to be thanked for his continued leadership and hard work. It’s truly making a difference in the lives of thousands of Americans nationwide.

Haley Kennington (@LadyKennington) is a conservative commentator who served as the Research Director & Story Editor for “2020: The Plot Against the President” and Research/Archive Editor for “What Is a Woman? “