The Italian Data Protection Authority has launched an investigation into Telegram due to the widespread use of bots inside the messenger that generate fake images of naked people.
Recently, research company Sensity discovered a whole ecosystem of deepfakes on Telegram, based on bots that generate fake nude images at users' request. Until July 2020, more than 100,000 deepfakes were discovered, which were shared in public Telegram channels.
The software used to create these images is called DeepNude. It went online last June. Its creator shut down the website after receiving high-profile press coverage due to the potential for technology abuse. But DeepNude has continued to spread through forums, torrents, and open source repositories.
Sensity argues that such fake nude images could lead to extortion, blackmail, and more.
The Italian regulator intends to request related information from Telegram and check whether Pavel Durov's messenger violates data protection regulations.
"The ease of use of this program makes anyone with a photo on the web potential victims of deep fakes," the Italian agency said in a statement on Friday.
Last week, Thailand's government came forward with the initiative to block Telegram because of the Thailand-based youth protest group Free YOUTH, which decided to switch from Facebook to Telegram and organize massive protests.