Man arrested for AI-generated child abuse material

A Wisconsin man has been arrested for the creation, distribution, and possession of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) created using generative artificial intelligence (GenAI).

Steven Anderegg, 42, of Holmen, allegedly used the popular text-to-image model Stable Diffusion to generate sexually explicit images of minors.

“Many of these images depicted nude or partially clothed minors lasciviously displaying or touching their genitals or engaging in sexual intercourse with men,” the US Department of Justice said.

Evidence obtained from Anderegg’s devices shows that he was intentionally creating sexual images of prepubescent minors, as he used sexually explicit text prompts to generate CSAM.

Anderegg also communicated with a 15-year-old boy to whom he sent the sexually explicit materials via Instagram. The man also explained to the young boy how he created CSAM and what text prompts he used.

Anderegg was identified through a “CyberTip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) after Instagram reported Anderegg’s account to NCMEC for distributing these images.”

“A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin returned an indictment on May 15th, charging Anderegg with producing, distributing, and possessing obscene visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and transferring obscene material to a minor under the age of 16.”

If found guilty, Anderegg could face a maximum penalty of up to 70 years in prison with a mandatory prison sentence of five years.

“Technology may change, but our commitment to protecting children will not,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said.

“The Justice Department will aggressively pursue those who produce and distribute child sexual abuse material – or CSAM – no matter how that material was created. Put simply, CSAM generated by AI is still CSAM, and we will hold accountable those who exploit AI to create obscene, abusive, and increasingly photorealistic images of children,” Monaco concluded.