June 12, 2024

Waving flag printed with USA map and the word VOTE

Illustration: da-kuk (Getty Images)

With the U.S. presidential election approaching, the Federal Communications Commission is proposing rules for transparency around the use of artificial intelligence in campaign ads.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel proposed disclosure rules for AI-generated content used in political ads on Wednesday. If adopted, the proposal would look into whether the FCC should require political ads on radio and TV to disclose when there is AI-generated content.

“The use of AI is expected to play a substantial role in the creation of political ads in 2024 and beyond, but the use of AI-generated content in political ads also creates a potential for providing deceptive information to voters, in particular, the potential use of ‘deep fakes’ — altered images, videos, or audio recordings that depict people doing or saying things that [they] did not actually do or say, or events that did not actually occur,” a statement by the Office of the Chairwoman said.

The FCC is seeking comment on whether on-air and written disclosure should be required in broadcasters’ political files when AI-generated content is used in political ads; proposing that the rules apply to both candidates and issue advertisements; requesting comment on what a specific definition of AI-generated comment should look like; and proposing that disclosure rules be applied to broadcasters and entities involved in programming, such as cable operators and radio providers.

“As artificial intelligence tools become more accessible, the Commission wants to make sure consumers are fully informed when the technology is used,” Rosenworcel said in a statement. “Today, I’ve shared with my colleagues a proposal that makes clear consumers have a right to know when AI tools are being used in the political ads they see, and I hope they swiftly act on this issue.”

The proposed disclosure rules do not prohibit the use of AI-generated content in political ads. The FCC has authority through the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act to make rules around political advertising. If the proposal is adopted, the FCC will take public comment on the rules.

Studies have shown that a majority of U.S. voters are worried about how AI can be used to spread misinformation during the 2024 presidential election, and AI-generated content is already being used by politicians and bad actors.

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