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Man arrested for producing AI-generated CSAM-images

Steven Anderegg, a 42-year old man from Wisconsin, was arrested last week for the production, distribution and possession of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

According to US Department of Justice (DoJ), the suspect allegedly used a text-to-image generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) model called Stable Diffusion to create thousands of realistic looking images of minors. Many of these images displayed nude or partially clothed children touching their genitals or engaging sexual intercourse with men.

Evidence recovered from Anderegg’s computer showed that he used specific and sexually explicit text prompts to create CSAM-images. He then stored these photos on his computer and sent them to other people, as well to at least one minor.

Anderegg also allegedly communicated with a 15 year old boy and explained to him how he used Stable Diffusion to convert text prompts into CSAM-images. The Wisconsin man also used Instagram to send direct massages to the boy containing AI-generated images of minors ‘lasciviously displaying their genitals’.

A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin returned an indictment on May 15, charging Anderegg with producing, possessing and distributing of AI-generated CSAM-images and transferring obscene photos to a minor under the age of 16. If convicted of all four counts, he faces a statutory maximum penalty of 70 years in prison.

Anderegg, who was identified thanks to a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) after Instagram reported his account to NCMEC for distributing CSAM-images, remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing scheduled for May 22.

DoJ wants to send a message

“Technology may change, but our commitment to protecting children will not,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco in a statement. She added that the Department of Justice will ‘aggressively pursue’ those who produce and distribute CSAM-material, no matter how the images are created.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, hopes that the persecution of Anderegg will send a clear message to others. “Using AI to produce sexually explicit depictions of children is illegal, and the Justice Department will not hesitate to hold accountable those who possess, produce, or distribute AI-generated child sexual abuse material”, he said.

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