Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman says deepfake was 'incredibly invasive'

Cathy Newman has been a victim of deepfake pornography (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)
Cathy Newman has been a victim of deepfake pornography (Ian West/PA) (PA Archive)

Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman has described the “incredibly invasive” experience of watching deepfaked footage of herself.

The broadcaster has revealed she watched digitally-altered footage in which her face was superimposed onto pornography using artificial intelligence (AI) as part of a Channel 4 News investigation.

It comes as the Ministry of Justice announced creating a sexually explicit deepfake image will be made an offence under new legislation.

Ms Newman told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday: "I didn't think I'd be too affected by it but actually when I watched it, the only way to describe it is that it was violating.

"It was kind of me and not me, and yet it was incredibly invasive.

"It was a sort of disgusting fantasy that someone had had and decided to create of me in all sorts of different sexual positions.

“It was really disturbing and violating is really the best way to describe it."

Ms Newman said she expected to "see the seams of AI" in the image but "if you didn't know, you would stumble across this video online and think it was me".

She said she was trying to identify who made the deepfake, adding: "I think one of the problems with this new law that's being proposed is that this is a worldwide problem.

"So, we can legislate in this jurisdiction, it might have no impact on whoever created my video or the millions of other videos that are out there, and I think speed is also of the essence here because we discovered in our research that more deepfake porn videos were created in 2023 than all other years combined, so this is increasing exponentially."

Under the new legislation, anyone who creates a sexually explicit deepfake without consent will face a criminal record and an unlimited fine.

They could even face jail, if the image is shared more widely.

The creation of a deepfake will be an offence irrespective of whether the creator intended to share it or not, the MoJ announced.

The new offence will be introduced through an amendment to the controversial Criminal Justice Bill, which is still making its way through Parliament.

Minister for Victims and Safeguarding Laura Farris said the creation of deepfake sexual images is "unacceptable irrespective of whether the image is shared".

"It is another example of ways in which certain people seek to degrade and dehumanise others - especially women," she said.

"And it has the capacity to cause catastrophic consequences if the material is shared more widely. This Government will not tolerate it.

"This new offence sends a crystal clear message that making this material is immoral, often misogynistic, and a crime."

The move has received cross-party support with Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper adding that it was "vital" the Government gets ahead of "fast-changing threats".

She said: "Superimposing somebody's image onto sexually explicit photos and videos is a gross violation of their autonomy and privacy, which can cause enormous harm, and it must not be tolerated.

"It's essential that the police and prosecutors are equipped with the training and tools required to rigorously enforce these laws in order to stop perpetrators from acting with impunity".