JOHN CURLEY AND JAKE SKORHEIM

John and Shari: Sen. Mullet speaks on banning nude deepfakes, running for governor

Apr 23, 2024, 5:46 PM | Updated: 5:47 pm

Photo: WA State Senator Mark Mullet (R-District 5)....

WA State Senator Mark Mullet (R-District 5). (Photo: Ted S. Warren, AP)

(Photo: Ted S. Warren, AP)

After Washington Senator Mark Mullet’s (D-Issaquah) daughter, Caroline Mullet, witnessed her friends become victims of a specific sex crime — being the subject of A.I.-generated sexually explicit photos — Mullet proposed legislation to ban that type of crime throughout Washington. The bill, HB 1999, passed 95-0 in the House, with three representatives excused, before passing in the Senate 49-0. Now, Mullet wants this type of legislation to be adopted nationwide.

“We realized that our revenge porn laws are clear if it’s an actual image, but it wasn’t clear that there were any laws broken because the images were fabricated,” Mullet said on The John and Shari Show. “The bill we passed fixed that. Now our hope is that, hopefully, we’ll get federal legislation so all 50 states make it clear that using AI to spread revenge porn, even if you’re altering the image to be fake, is not allowed.”

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The incident initially occurred at Issaquah High School’s homecoming dance, but Caroline and her friends did not know until a few weeks after the dance that a male classmate was allegedly circulating fake nude images of girls who attended the dance, including sexually explicit pictures that he had fabricated using an artificial intelligence app, according to The New York Times. The app was designed to automatically “strip” clothed photos of real girls and women.

“One of the boys brought a camera, took pictures of the girls and then used AI technology to basically make them look like they were naked and then he spread it around the school,” Mullet said.

Sen. Mullet’s daughter speaks on nude deepfakes after picture of friend circulates

Caroline Mullet spoke to lawmakers about the severity of this case at a Jan. 29 House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee meeting after her friends felt too uncomfortable and exposed to testify in Olympia.

“He laughed about it and sent it to his peers as though it was funny,” Caroline Mullet said. “I hate the idea that I should have to worry about this happening again to any of my female friends, my sisters or even myself.”

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The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reported child abuse online rose by more than 12% in 2023 compared with the previous year, surpassing 36.2 million reports, the organization said in its annual CyberTipline report.

Half of the U.S. population is now covered under state bans on nonconsensual explicit images made with artificial intelligence, according to Bloomberg. Indiana, Utah and New Mexico all recently passed legislation this year barring deepfakes while Wisconsin, Florida, Oregon and Arizona have bills waiting to pass their state legislatures. California, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Florida and Georgia had legislation against deepfakes in place before the start of 2024.

“Why is this not child pornography?” John Curley, co-host of The John and Shari Show, asked Mullet. “Because there are laws on the books about child pornography. Is it because it’s fake?”

“Because it’s a fabricated image, but we fixed that now,” Mullet answered. “It was just a fabricated image part that wasn’t in it, but now there are both criminal and civil penalties from that, so we’re in a much better spot now the bill was passed.”

Sen. Mullet on campaign for governor following Republican Spokane convention

On a different topic, John Curley asked Mullet what his reaction was to Washington’s Republican Party convention in Spokane kind of falling apart.

“I think my theme has been, there is a split in the Republican Party between the people who support the Trump candidates and the people who aren’t into the Trump candidates. And everyone kept telling me all Republicans just gonna support Dave Reichert. And I said, ‘No, you guys aren’t talking,’ I’m traveling around the state, I’m talking to people. I said we did 100 campaign events last year, every event we did was a mix of Democrats and Republicans,” Mullet responded.

And I think just being on the ground all around the state, it was very clear to me that there is a split in the Republican Party between the Trump wing and the non-Trump wing, and that split basically played out for everyone to see at the convention. And like you said, our campaign has been betting on this, because our path out of the primary is when you have a split of the Republican vote, that creates a path to actually have, you know, a moderate Democrat who was endorsed by the law enforcement community, get out of the primary and in the top two,” he continued.

You can listen to the full interview with Mullet below.

Contributing: Julia Dallas, MyNorthwest

Listen to John Curley and Shari Elliker weekday afternoons from 3 – 7 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

John Curley and Jake Skorheim on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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John and Shari: Sen. Mullet speaks on banning nude deepfakes, running for governor