(Adds Internet industry comment Graph 8-9)
by Byron Kaye
SYDNEY, Sept 8 (Reuters) – Australia will take steps to block search engines such as Google and Bing from sharing child sexual abuse material created by artificial intelligence, the country’s Internet regulator said on Friday.
A new code drawn up by industry giants at the request of the government will require search engines to ensure such content does not return in search results, e-Security Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said in a statement.
He added that this would also require that AI functions built into search engines could not produce synthetic versions of the same content. Synthetic versions of content are also known as deepfakes.
Inman Grant said, “The use of generative AI has grown so rapidly that I think it has taken the whole world somewhat by surprise.”
Code serves as an example of how the regulatory and legal landscape surrounding Internet platforms is being reshaped by an explosion of products that automatically generate live content.
Inman Grant said earlier code produced by Alphabet-owned Google and Microsoft-owned Bing did not include AI-generated content, so he asked them to go back to the drawing board.
Inman Grant said, “When the biggest players in the industry announced they would be integrating generative AI into their search operations we had a draft code that was clearly no longer suitable for the purpose. And asked to step up.”
A spokeswoman for Digital Industry Group Inc, an Australian advocacy organization of which Google and Microsoft are members, said they were pleased the regulator had approved the new version of the code.
“We worked hard to reflect recent developments regarding generative AI, codify best practices for the industry, and provide further community safeguards,” the spokesperson said.
Earlier this year, the regulator registered security codes for various other internet services such as social media, smartphone applications and device providers. Those codes will take effect in late 2023.
The regulator is still working on developing a security code related to internet storage and private messaging services, which has faced opposition from privacy advocates globally.
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Stephen Coates)