Sheffield writer launches campaign over 'deepfake porn' after finding own face used in violent sexual images

A Sheffield writer and her MP are campaigning to criminalise deepfake pornography after she found her own face had been used in violent sexual images.

Wednesday, 7th July 2021, 9:15 am

Author Helen Mort said she never shared intimate photographs but found that since 2017, someone had taken images of her from private social media and other sources, uploaded them to a porn site using her first name and invited others to photoshop her face onto extreme pornographic content.

But the police did not help as creating pictures or videos such as this is not yet illegal.

She launched a petition earlier this year calling for tighter regulations on taking, making and faking explicit images which has so far gathered more than 6,000 signatures.

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Paul Blomfield MP.

In her statement, she said: “My ordeal left me feeling frightened, ashamed, paranoid and devastated. But I won’t let it silence me – I would like to petition the government to move quickly and make ‘deepfakes’ and similar malicious content illegal, creating one clear law to ban the taking, making and faking of these harmful images.”

Paul Blomfield MP for Sheffield Central, raised the issue in parliament this week.

He said: “My constituent Helen Mort had the appalling experience of finding out that someone unknown to her had taken ordinary images from her social media and superimposed them on violent and extreme pornography.

“These were not intimate images, but they were used to create deepfakes. When she went to the police, she was told that there was no crime to investigate as the original images were not private.

Helen Mort.

“The Law Commission’s review, to which the minister refers, proposes extending the criminalisation of sharing intimate images to include deepfakes.

“Will the minister ensure that the government respond positively and quickly to those proposals so that people like Helen are protected in the future?”

In response, MP Alex Chalk said: “I am very grateful to [Mr Blomfield] for raising that harrowing case. He is absolutely right to do so. We recognise that the law needs to keep pace with those who would use technology to perpetrate dreadful abuse. We have asked the Law Commission to act, as he indicated. It is doing so at pace, and we will be looking very carefully with a view to extending the law where it is appropriate to do so.”