Political ads could require AI-generated content disclosures soon

The chair of the Federal Communications Commission introduced a proposal Wednesday that could require political advertisers to disclose when they use AI-generated content on radio and TV ads.

If the proposal is implemented, the FCC will seek comment on whether to require on-air and written disclosure of AI-generated content in political ads and will propose to apply these disclosure requirements to certain mediums. In a press release, the FCC notes that the disclosure requirements wouldn’t prohibit such content but would instead require political advertisers to be transparent about their use of AI.

“As artificial intelligence tools become more accessible, the Commission wants to make sure consumers are fully informed when the technology is used,” FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement

But as The Associated Press notes, any disclosure regulations wouldn’t apply to streaming services.

Still, this is part of a broader effort to regulate the use of AI in political communications. In February, the FCC banned the use of AI-generated voices in robocalls. The ruling came a month after some New Hampshire residents received a robocall telling them not to vote in the state’s presidential primary. The voice in the robocall, which sounded like President Joe Biden’s, was AI-generated. The two Texas-based companies behind the ad had previously been accused of illegal robocalls, according to the FCC.

Major political players have also begun using AI in their ads. The Republican National Committee released an AI-generated Biden attack ad last year that depicted a dystopian future awaiting us if Biden was reelected. That ad featured a disclosure: “An AI-generated look into the country’s possible future if Joe Biden is re-elected in 2024.” And Never Back Down, the super PAC associated with former Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis, released an ad that used AI to mimic former President Donald Trump’s voice last July. And in March, the Democratic National Committee made a bizarre AI-generated parody of a Lara Trump song.

The Federal Election Commission has also attempted to crack down on AI. Last August, in response to a petition filed by the advocacy group Public Citizen, the FEC decided to consider regulating the use of AI-generated content in political ads. More recently, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced a bipartisan bill in March that would require disclaimers on political ads that include AI-generated images, audio, or video, “except when AI is used only for minor alterations, such as color editing, cropping, resizing, and other immaterial uses.” The Senate Rules Committee advanced the Klobuchar and Murkowski bill, called the AI Transparency in Elections Act, and two other AI-related bills on Wednesday.

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Gaby Del Valle