Colorado’s new “deepfake” law requires campaign ads to disclose AI-generated content

Colorado’s new “deepfake” law requires campaign ads to disclose AI-generated content

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Colorado campaign ads with audio, video and other content generated using artificial intelligence will need to feature prominent disclosures under a bill signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis over the weekend.

The law, passed as House Bill 1147, likens “deepfakes,” or the use of AI to create false depictions of people doing or saying things, to forcing the subject to act under duress. It warns that candidates’ reputations can be “irreparably tainted” by fabricated messages and requires “clear and conspicuous” disclosures when they’re used to portray candidates within 60 days of a primary election or 90 days of a general election.

The new law gives people the right to file administrative complaints with the Secretary of State’s Office alleging violations of election law and also gives candidates the ability to sue over the dissemination of deepfakes.

State Rep. Junie Joseph, a Boulder Democrat and lead sponsor on the bill, said she hoped it would “ensure more transparent and accountable elections here in Colorado.”

Rapidly progressing AI technology can take constituents by surprise and fuel the spread of lies about candidates, she said.

The deepfake bill was one of several election-related proposals championed this year by Secretary of State Jena Griswold. The new law takes effect immediately, including for the state’s June 25 primaries.

Joseph said she worked with Griswold, the governor’s office and civil rights groups to ensure the new law wouldn’t step on First Amendment rights. Instead of prohibiting the use of AI in ads, it requires disclosures and sets civil penalties.

“AI is a threat to American elections and may supercharge election disinformation through the use of deepfakes,” Griswold said in a statement. “This new law will help ensure Coloradans know when communications featuring candidates or officeholders are deepfaked and will increase transparency.”

AI technology in general has been the focus of new regulations in Colorado that have caught the attention of officials nationally and around the globe. In March, more than a dozen tech companies said they would sign an accord to adopt “reasonable precautions” to stop the technology from being used to throw democratic elections into disarray.

The Federal Communications Commission announced Thursday it would seek a $6 million fine against a campaign consultant accused of using AI to mimic President Joe Biden’s voice in a robocall ahead of New Hampshire’s January primary.

Joseph said she expects Colorado legislators will need to revisit the issue to keep up with the rapidly evolving technology.

“I’m sure we might need to come back in the future to add some provisions to make sure we’re current or ahead of these technologies that are moving really, really fast,” Joseph said.

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