BarcelonaThe arrest of a teenager in Syria at the end of October on charges of taking photos of girls and removing their clothes through artificial intelligence is no longer an isolated case. The Barcelona Juvenile Public Prosecutor's Office is investigating another person with similar characteristics, sources in the organization confirmed. Within a few months, two investigations were opened in Barcelona neighborhoods into a hitherto unprecedented crime. In fact, the first case in Spain of the production of child pornography through artificial intelligence became public last September, after the National Police identified several minors in Almendralejo (Badajoz) for stripping other girls through these programs.
In all three cases, the perpetrators were minors. In fact, the two investigations opened in the areas of Barcelona are supervised by the Juvenile Prosecutor's Office, responsible for crimes committed by teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17. Only few details have emerged about the second case, and the number of perpetrators and victims is unknown. In fact, one of the difficulties in this type of procedure is identifying people who go out naked, because they themselves do not know that their image is doctored, and therefore neither they nor those around them report it.
In the case of Syria, for example, none of the minors initially reported the matter. According to the National Police, the arrested teenager, who is studying an intermediate university degree in computer science, began manipulating images when he was 14 years old. He took photos of girls on social media – according to sources consulted by ARA, many of the victims were under 10 – and used artificial intelligence software to remove their clothes. At other times, he would photograph other minors passing by in the street from the window of his house, and then he would change the pictures. I artificially took off their clothes and distributed them on social media and on some blogs, without painting their faces.
The investigation was initiated by the ex-officio National Police. During social network crawling missions, which are carried out daily, they discovered more than 300 child sex profiles submitted via the networks. When agents searched the apartment where the boy lived, they found these images on his computer and also intercepted other child sexual exploitation files.
At the same time, the specialized service on violence against women of the Barcelona Public Prosecutor's Office also warns of the growth of a new type of crime, revenge porn. Although instances of men posting sexual images of their partner or ex-partner as a means of getting revenge or hurting them is on the rise, this is still small. Last year, the service, now led by Public Prosecutor María Jesús Méndez, filed three indictments for the crime of disclosure and received nearly a dozen complaints to that effect.
However, Mendes warns that there is also an increase in the number of men threatening to make this type of content public with their partner or ex as a way to coerce them, even if they don't end up circulating the images. It is very difficult to know how many complaints related to threats were processed in 2022. Of the 1,722 complaints related to threats by the Violence Against Women Service of the Barcelona Public Prosecutor's Office, it was for this reason. Mendez indicates that this may reach a maximum of 10% of cases.
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