High schooler calls for AI regulations after manipulated pornographic images of her and others shared online

Nov 6, 2023, 8:55 AM | Updated: 10:44 am

Francesca Mani, 14, and her mother Dorota Mani speak with CNN's Michael Smerconish on November 4.

Francesca Mani, 14, and her mother Dorota Mani speak with CNN's Michael Smerconish on November 4. (Mandatory Credit: CNN)

(Mandatory Credit: CNN)

(CNN) — A student at a New Jersey high school is calling for federal legislation to address AI generated pornographic images after she says photos of her and other female classmates were manipulated and possibly shared online over the summer.

Westfield High School student Francesca Mani, 14, and her mother, Dorota, have expressed frustration over what they say is a lack of legal recourse in place to protect victims of AI-generated pornography.

“In this situation, there was some boys or a boy — that’s to be determined — who created, without the consent of the girls, inappropriate images,” Dorota said, speaking with CNN’s Michael Smerconish Saturday.

Francesca, who said she was among more than 30 female students at Westfield High School whose photos were manipulated and possibly shared publicly, is demanding accountability from the school and local, state, and government officials.

School administrators initially became aware of the incident on October 20 when students informed them the images were created and possibly shared over the summer.

“There was a great deal of concern about who had images created of them and if they were shared,” Westfield Principal Mary Asfendis wrote in a letter to students and parents sent on October 20. “At this time, we believe that any created images have been deleted and are not being circulated. This is a very serious incident.”

Westfield High School has since conducted its own investigation and the Westfield Police Department and the school’s appointed resource officer “were immediately notified and consulted throughout the investigation,” according to school spokesperson Mary Ann McGann. CNN has contacted the Westfield Police Department for comment.

McGann told CNN the school is not able “to provide specific details on the number of students involved and any disciplinary actions imposed, as matters involving students are confidential.”

The school provided CNN with a statement from Superintendent Dr. Raymond González, who said, “All school districts are grappling with the challenges and impact of artificial intelligence and other technology available to students at any time and anywhere.”

González added, “The Westfield Public School District has safeguards in place to prevent this from happening on our network and school-issued devices. We continue to strengthen our efforts by educating our students and establishing clear guidelines to ensure that these new technologies are used responsibly in our schools and beyond.”

Dorota said she’s proud of her daughter for speaking up and advocating not only for herself, but on behalf of other young girls who have also been victimized by AI generated deepfake pornographic content.

“I think this issue is more complex than just Westfield High School, and this is our time and opportunity to treat it as a teachable platform, to shed the light on this important issue,” she said.

Dorota said her daughter has urged her to see if there are any laws in New Jersey protecting against deepfake images or videos and has also written a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to urge state governors to make sure there are laws in place to protect underage girls and boys.

CNN has reached out to the New Jersey Union County Prosecutor’s Office and the White House for comment.

Intelligence officials in the US have warned about the sharp rise in deepfake videos, which may look convincingly real but are generated using artificial intelligence. In California, bills have been written to combat the use of deepfakes in nonconsensual pornography.

CNN’s Samantha Beech contributed to this report.

Related: Utah lawmakers want AI regulation in schools

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High schooler calls for AI regulations after manipulated pornographic images of her and others shared online