OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The next legislative session doesn’t start until February of next year, but lawmakers are already crafting the makeup for legislation, including modifying the penalty for image-based sexual abuse.
The crimes goes by many names, including “revenge porn,” “non-consensual pornography,” and “image-based sexual abuse.”
“I had my own personal experience with it where I’d been a victim of non-consensual pornography and that’s really how I got involved,” said Heaven Taylor.
Taylor is now an advocate for human rights.
She told KFOR she has been fighting to criminalize image-based sexual abuse for years.
Oklahoma lawmakers tackled the issue in 2016 when passing Senate Bill 1257.
However, the language in the law didn’t account for artificial intelligence which Taylor said is being used more often in insidious ways.
“People can go in and download a picture of you and transpose your face, your likeness over an obscene image or an obscene video. It could potentially have long term consequences professionally, personally, and of course, your mental health,” stated Taylor.
Taylor said she has seen celebrities, children, and average adults be impacted by artificial intelligence.
“I’m really big on telling people to stop posting pictures of their children on the Internet. I don’t think it’s a very safe space for that. But I would say anyone can really be a victim. The technology’s accessible. So the fact that the technology is so accessible is really what’s causing this to be used for harm,” explained Taylor. “I’m not anti-artificial intelligence. I like artificial intelligence. I love technology. I just think we need to make sure there’s no room for interpretation in the law.”
Representative Toni Hasenbeck, R-Elgin, agreed in that the law needs stronger language – not only about artificial intelligence, but extortion.
Rep. Hasenbeck recently hosted an interim study to dive deeper into image-based sexual abuse.
She said she has since learned it only takes a predator two and a half hours to persuade a teenager to send explicit photos.
“This is a problem that is not just specific to boys or girls or men or women. The predators know how to make this kind of stuff happen,” stated Rep. Hasenbeck. “We need to catch up our laws so when a predator tries to extort an image or money from any age of a person that our law can catch that predator and punish them.”
Rep. Hasenbeck added most explicit images don’t reveal an age because the person’s face is cropped out of the photo.
“It doesn’t matter if this child was 16 and are now 18 or they are 18 and were 17 and we can’t tell from the image or you are a 35-year-old woman whose domestic partner was capturing images of you without your permission and threatening you with the dissemination of those images. We’re going to make all of that insidious behavior equally punishable by the law,” explained Rep. Hasenbeck. “There have been several interim studies done about artificial intelligence and so hopefully by December 1, we’ll have had a pretty good meeting of the minds and figured out a way to address that specific issue, because Oklahomans don’t want predators going free.”
She said extortion and artificial intelligence would likely be included in the same legislation.
Taylor is hoping Oklahoma lawmakers will look at other states and how those laws are worded.
“I know that Virginia law includes a subsection that includes your likeness and images. I think that our law really needs to be updated with language, including images made and altered with artificial intelligence. But we’re not just talking images. We’re talking people taking your voice, your data from your voice and using that to steal your identity.”
Rep. Hasenbeck told KFOR she wants to modify the punishment for repeat offenders.
“We want to aggravate the punishment and we’re kind of going to study some cases and figure out, you know, is this one image, is that 15 images? Is it 25 images? I don’t want an 18-year-old kid who made a mistake and showed a picture to his buddies – I don’t want that kid, the first time offense to be labeled as a sexual predator,” said Rep. Hasenbeck. “I don’t want that kid to go to prison. I really don’t. However, if the same 18-year-old kid has done this to 25 young women and there’s a trail of a pattern of insidious behavior, then maybe that kid does need to have a little time.”
The next legislative session will begin in February 2024.