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Sex crime chat rooms resurface, this time with deepfakes

(123rf)
(123rf)

Digital chat rooms that share or sell deepfake pornography content remain prevalent despite a new provision to punish related crimes implemented two years ago.

Deepfake content refers to digitally manipulated videos and images that are hard to distinguish from genuine content. Most pornographic deepfake content grafts a person’s face -- usually an acquaintance or celebrity -- onto sexually explicit videos.

According to ReSET, a digital sex crime victim support group, one of the Telegram chat rooms they are monitoring had 2,193 users waiting to enter the upper grade room as of Sept. 16, the group said on Thursday.

Like “Nth Room” case, in which a cartel distributed sexually exploitative content through Telegram, this cartel is also using several chat rooms divided into stages to avoid investigation.

According to a report that Rep. Her Euna from People Power Party received from the National Police Agency, a total of 264 cases of distributing deepfake content were reported from 2021 to August this year, but suspects were arrested in only 121 of them.

Recently, Park Ji-hyun, former co-chair of the emergency steering committee for the Democratic Party of Korea who has contributed to the initial investigation of the "Nth Room" and the "Baksa Room" cases, stressed the seriousness of the deepfake crime by revealing that there is a Telegram chat room targeting her, producing and distributing content with her face and information.

A main reason that hinders investigation is the use of social media operated by overseas corporations and servers, on which majority of digital crime takes place, an activist at ReSET pointed out. This has fueled calls for Korea to join the Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention.

The convention, created in 2001 under the lead of the Council of Europe, aims for efficient judicial cooperation among member countries on cybercrimes. Currently 67 countries are participating. The police decided to review joining the Budapest Convention by the first half of next year.



By Lee Jung-Youn (jy@heraldcorp.com)
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