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Measure addresses rise in AI-generated nude photos of students

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(The Center Square) – Illinois lawmakers are addressing a growing form of cyberbullying in schools involving artificial intelligence.

The House passed House Bill 299 that would amend the Illinois school code to include sexually explicit digital depictions of students under the definition of cyberbullying.

State Rep. Janet Yang Rohr, D-Naperville, said the images generated by AI could have lasting effects on a young person.

“These deepfakes and nudes can have devastating consequences,” said Rohr. “They are used to harass, to humiliate and to bully young women.”

A high-profile case of AI-generated photos included sexually explicit deepfakes of Taylor Swift, which went viral on X, formerly Twitter, last January.

Cyberbullying has kicked off a debate on whether freedom of speech rights are violated. In an article published in the Akron Law Review, University of Illinois College of Media’s Benjamin Holden wrote that courts are split over whether schools have the authority to punish cyber-speech, even when it causes a disruption of school activities.

Rohr’s measure updates best practices for school districts dealing with cyberbullying. The Illinois State Board of Education has expressed concern for the need for clearer language for districts and staff to deal with the rising levels of AI-based cyberbullying.

The bill is now being considered by the Senate.

“Bullies need to know their actions will have consequences, and this bill will create those consequences,” said Rohr.

Legislators are in session Friday.

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