US regulators consider regulating political deep fakes ahead of 2024 election

US regulators consider regulating political deep fakes ahead of 2024 election

The United States Federal Election Commission (FEC) voted unanimously on Aug.10 to advance a petition that would potentially regulate deep fakes in political ads generated by artificial intelligence (AI).

The petition targets ads that use AI to portray political candidates doing or saying things they did not do ahead of the 2024 elections.

Robert Weissman, the president of the advocacy organization behind the petition, Public Citizen, called deep fakes a “significant threat to democracy.”

“The FEC must use its authority to ban deep fakes or risk being complicit with an AI-driven wave of fraudulent misinformation and the destruction of basic norms of truth and falsity.”

There have been instances of candidates using fake, AI-generated images as a part of their campaigns. The campaign of Flordia Governor Ron DeSantis, who is running for the Republican Party nomination, spread three fake images of former U.S. President Donald Trump embracing Dr. Anthony Fauci.

In the FEC meeting, Public Citizen asked for clarification on an existing law to prevent “fraudulent misrepresentation” in political campaigns and if AI deep fakes are included.

Lisa Gilbert, the executive vice president of Public Citizen said:

“The need to regulate deep fakes and other deceptive uses of AI in election ads becomes more urgent with each passing day.”

The FEC decided to advance the petition, with the next step being a 60-day public comment period, which Gilbert called an “encouraging sign” of AI’s threat to democracy being “taken seriously” by regulators.

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Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist with Public Citizen, remarked on the public comment period:

“A public comment period will provide a critical forum for policy advocates, experts, and voters to express their concerns about a potential deluge of deep fake ads in the upcoming election cycle.”

This latest move follows the initial petition filing from Public Citizen in July. The petition emphasized similar sentiment, highlighting that deep fakes could go so far as to “swing election results.”

Following the publication of the first petition, members from both chambers of the U.S. Congress responded with letters of support.

Cointelegraph reached out to Public Citizen for further comment on their efforts. 

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