SUELLA Braverman has warned that paedophiles are using artificial intelligence to create child sex abuse images.
The Home Secretary declared the “sickening rise” is making it more difficult for detectives to find real victims online.
Perverts are even converting regular pictures of youngsters into child abuse images by removing clothes, officials believe.
And she warned the abhorrent use of the technology is inciting “paedophiles to commit more offences” in the physical world.
Mrs Braverman on Wednesday agreed with US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to unite to “tackle the alarming rise” in AI-generated child abuse crimes.
She said: “Child sexual abuse is a truly abhorrent crime and one of the challenges of our age.
“Its proliferation online does not respect borders and must be combatted across the globe.
“That is why we are working to tackle the sickening rise of AI-generated child sexual abuse imagery which incites paedophiles to commit more offences and also obstructs law enforcement from finding real victims online.
“It is therefore vital we work hand-in-glove with our close partners in the US to tackle it.
“I commend the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who work tirelessly to keep children safe around the world.
“Social media companies must take responsibility and prioritise child safety on their platforms.”
Mrs Braverman and Mr Mayorkas hope other countries will join the fight against AI-generated images.
The Internet Watch Foundation uncovered an online “manual” dedicated to helping offenders refine their prompts and train AI to return more and more realistic results.
And law enforcement agencies fear a rise in child sex abuse images on the internet will lead to more children being physically abused.
Some AI technologies allow paedophiles to create new pictures from benign imagery.
For example; through a process known as inpainting, perverts can remove articles of clothing completely or swap someone’s face into indecent images of real children.
Detectives warned it will also make it harder for them to find victims online, with more fake images being shared among paedophiles.
Around 800 predators are arrested in the UK every month.
It comes after the Home Secretary declared thousands of criminals could be left to freely target children on social media.
She warned that Meta’s plans to introduce end-to-end encryption for messages on Facebook and Instagram would create a safe haven for criminals.
Officials believe the controversial plans will lead to the number of child abuse images or videos being referred to the National Crime Agency falling by 92 per cent from Facebook and 85 per cent from Instagram.