Manchester, News

Manchester Met lecturer haunted by ‘deepfake’ online abuse calls for change in law

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Writer Helen Mort

Sheffield poet and Manchester Metropolitan University’s senior lecturer, Helen Mort, is calling for law makers to amend current UK laws after becoming a victim of ‘deepfake’ photo-editing on a pornographic website.

Mort discovered photos of herself had been uploaded to a pornographic website last year.

“I’ve never shared intimate photos. But I recently found out that, since 2017, someone has been taking images of me from private social media and other sources and uploading them to a porn site, using my first name, inviting other users to photoshop my face onto explicit and violent sexual images,” said Mort in a petition to change the law surrounding online abuse.

According to UK law, it is illegal to disclose ‘private sexual photographs or films without the consent of an individual who appears in them.’ However, this does not apply to the ‘deepfake’ images, which were edited to include Mort’s features. Because Mort’s nonsexual photos were merged with sexually explicit images, her case falls outside of current laws.

Although law makers are reviewing the current laws, Dr Aislinn O’Connell, a lecturer in law at Royal Holloway University of London, says it could take years for any amendments to be made.

Mort has launched a petition calling for a change in the current law, which has been signed by more than 4,500 individuals.

Mort has also written a poem about her experiences. She said during a BBC interview: “The only thing that is going to allow me to reclaim any sense of agency here is to say something about it using my art form.”

About the author / 

Ryann Overbay

Ryann has recently moved to Manchester from Japan, where she lived for five years teaching English literature and working as a travel writer for Voyapon Magazine. She is currently studying her MA in creative writing and is excited to work with aAh! Magazine as a creative editor.

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