Effort Grows to Prevent 'Deepfakes' in NH Campaign Ads
Monday, August 21, 2023
As the 2024 presidential hopefuls ramp up their campaigns in New Hampshire, federal officials are considering new rules on so-called "deepfakes" in political advertising.
The ads are created using artificial intelligence to falsely depict a candidate's speech or actions. Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist for the nonpartisan consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, called these ads a threat to democracy.
"People who put out those type of 'deepfakes' don't even have to have a disclosure system saying," said Holman, "'What you're watching isn't real - we just made all this stuff up.'"
The Federal Election Commission will decide whether to develop rules governing the ads following a 60-day public comment window, which ends October 16.
Holman said it will take public pressure on both Congress and state legislatures to ensure voters are not being lied to by political campaigns.
Four states have already banned deepfakes, including California, Minnesota, Texas and Washington. Democratic lawmakers have also sent letters to the Federal Election Commission in support of the rulemaking process.
Until those rules are created, Holman said the public should view all campaign ads with skepticism.
"This should not be a partisan issue," said Holman. "I mean, both parties are going to abuse this if they have the license to do so."
Two bills to regulate deepfakes have stalled in Congress, but as more lawmakers' reputations are tarnished by these false ads, Holman said he suspects they may get some attention.
For now, the number of ads is growing - and without regulations, Holman said the onslaught of ads will make them harder for candidates to dispute.
Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
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