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Lawmakers, Experts Raise Concerns About AI Being Used for Child Exploitation

U.S. Rep. Bob Good, R-Va. Roberto Schmidt / AP
U.S. Rep. Bob Good, R-Va. Roberto Schmidt / AP

By Casey Harper | The Center Square

Lawmakers and experts are raising the alarm that rapidly developing artificial intelligence technology could be used to exploit children.

A group of Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking how the Department of Justice will respond to predators using AI to generate sexually explicit material involving children.

The lawmakers requested answers from Garland about the largely uncharted problem of the artificially generated illegal videos and images, which now be easily mass produced.

"The primary responsibility of the government is to protect its citizens," said Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., who helped lead the effort. "In our technology-driven world, we must increase efforts to protect America's children online, especially with the rise of Artificial Intelligence. Protecting children from exploitation is a bipartisan concern that transcends political agendas. I am committed to ensuring the safety of children and holding accountable those who commit such reprehensible actions."

AI has exploded in popularity most notably in the form of ChatGPT, which has seen multiple improved iterations in recent months and been used by millions of Americans. ChatGPT, though, is just one of many AI prototypes in a field expected to rapidly expand in the coming years.

Some of those AI programs can generate images and even videos, which is now being used for ill.

"Every day, children are trafficked and abused in the production of child sexual abuse material (CSAM)," Abigail Loyd, Communications Director for Unbound Now, anti-human trafficking nonprofit, told The Center Square. "Once known as 'child pornography,' CSAM is not innocent adult entertainment. The images depict children being sexually abused and exploited. Many viewers of CSAM are also hands-on offenders, sexually abusing and purchasing sex from children, which is sex trafficking."

Loyd said the AI-generated images ultimately increases demand for exploitation of children.

"The use of AI to generate more CSAM fuels demand leading to increased victimization," she said. "The fight against human trafficking requires a targeted effort to eliminate all forms of child sexual abuse material."

More than two dozen Republicans co-signed the letter, which received official support from the Family Policy Alliance and the Family Research Council.

"In today's world, children are tragically being exploited through the circulation of artificial intelligence (AI)-generated materials that depict child sexual abuse. Family Policy Alliance is grateful that members of Congress are speaking up on behalf of these children," said Ruth Ward, Director of Government Affairs at Family Policy Alliance. "AI is a new field for potential child exploitation, and law enforcement must respond quickly when children are taken advantage of by criminals—at times unsuspectingly by themselves or their parents."

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