Government Military and Veterans Affairs

AI political ad requirements proposed

Political ads generated with artificial intelligence would be required to disclose that information under a bill considered by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Feb. 28.

Sen. John Cavanaugh
Sen. John Cavanaugh

LB1203, introduced by Omaha Sen. John Cavanaugh, would require qualified political advertisements to include a statement to the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission regarding AI generation.

A qualified ad would be any paid advertisement related to a candidate for local or state office or a ballot question that contains any image, audio or video that is generated in whole or substantially with the use of artificial intelligence.

The bill also would prohibit the distribution of “materially deceptive media” — defined as media created with AI with the intention to deceive voters that falsely depicts conduct or speech that did not occur — within 90 days of an election, unless such media carries a disclaimer.

LB1203 would not apply to news broadcasts, satire or parody.

Cavanaugh acknowledged that the bill likely would raise concerns regarding free speech rights, but said misleading political ads that blur the line between reality and fabrication are becoming increasingly common.

“The potential for deep fakes, or digitally manipulated audio and video, to deceive voters and disrupt elections is something that we should all be concerned about,” Cavanaugh said.

Heidi Uhing, public policy director for Civic Nebraska, testified in favor of the proposal. Several other states are considering similar legislation, she said, which seeks to place some “guardrails” around the use of AI to protect elections and help voters determine a candidate’s actual behavior and policy positions.

“Media can now be created very simply, and very cheaply, that depicts a person’s likeness or voice so accurately that one cannot distinguish whether or not it is real,” Uhing said. “The success of our democracy is dependent upon an informed electorate that has access to true and accurate information on which to base their votes.”

David Hunter, executive director of the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, testified in opposition to the proposal. While agreeing that AI is a concern, he said the NADC could not administer or enforce the bill as written.

“The NADC is not tasked with trying to judge the truth or falsity of claims made in the heat of a campaign,” Hunter said. “We are not equipped to be fact checkers [or] to investigate allegations from candidates who, under this bill, may file a complaint alleging that false statements — in part using artificial intelligence — are being made about them.”

The committee took no immediate action on LB1203.

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