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Victims of fake sex videos could file California lawsuits under proposed law

California would crack down on fake sex videos that often target celebrities under a bill approved Friday by the state Legislature that is headed to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Assembly Bill 602 by Assemblyman Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) would give anyone depicted in a digitally altered sex video the right to sue the person who created it or anyone who intentionally shared it if there is reason to believe the person depicted did not consent to its release or creation.

“It’s a big relief,” Berman said moments after the bill passed its final vote. “Technology is being used in really terrible ways and taking advantage of people in ways that are having real harm. ... We need to rein it in.”

Known as “deep fakes,” the technology has been used to digitally graft the face of a person into a pornographic film without the people involved knowing or consenting to it.

Last year, an Indian journalist was targeted in retribution for her investigative stories about a young girl’s rape. Websites advertise fake celebrity sex tapes while others try to pass them off as real.

The bill would also allow a person who consents to a digitally altered pornographic video being created up to three days to rescind their approval.

“Unfortunately, there appears to be a strong appetite for this content online, even when the viewer knows it is fake,” Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) said.

The bill passed the Senate 40-0 on Tuesday and 61-0 during Friday’s vote in the Assembly.

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