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Blessing Introduces Bill Protecting Children from Artificial Intelligence Exploitation

January 24, 2024
Louis W. Blessing, III News

COLUMBUS—Senator Louis W. Blessing, III (R-Colerain Township) and State Senator Terry Johnson (R-McDermott) today introduced Senate Bill 217 to regulate potentially harmful uses of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, specifically the exploitation of Ohio's children.

“Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool that can unfortunately be used in harmful and obscene ways," Blessing said. "This legislation seeks to protect the safety and privacy of all Ohioans, especially our children, from misuse of this new technology.”

"Protecting Ohio's most vulnerable, our children, is more important than ever in a rapidly changing world," Johnson said. "This bill creates safeguards for the use of AI, prioritizing the safety of all Ohioans in a digital world."

Senate Bill 217 would enhance transparency about AI-generated images by requiring these products to include a distinctive watermark. This would ensure Ohioans are aware when a product is AI-generated and what system it was created by.

The legislation criminalizes making, transmitting, or possessing “simulated obscene material,” which includes depictions of a minor or impaired person that would be prohibited under Ohio’s existing child pornography laws if the depicted person was real. 

Senate Bill 217 also aims to criminalize using a modified or fabricated version of an individual’s voice, photograph, image, likeness, or distinctive appearance to:

  • defraud another person,
  • induce another person to make a financial decision or extend credit,
  • damage a person’s or entity’s reputation,
  • to depict the person, without their consent, in a state of nudity, engaging in sexual activity, or in any obscene material, or
  • engage in child enticement, pandering obscenity involving a minor or impaired person, pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor or impaired person, or illegal use of a minor or impaired person in a nudity-oriented material or performance.

Senate Bill 217 must next be referred to a committee.