A pair of bills designed to address criminality in using manipulated media content, sometimes known as “deepfakes,” during political campaigns recently passed the Assembly’s Science, Information and Technology Committee.
The first bill would address the emerging use of these fabricated and edited media items by banning the use of deceptive audio or visual media content featuring a candidate for public office within 60 days of an election.
The second bill would require certain disclosure requirements on any video or audio released that was intended for distributed online or in other channels.
The Rise in Deepfakes
Both pieces of legislation would serve to protect individuals from misrepresentations of their likeness, while bolstering faith in democratic processes, according to their sponsors.
These synthetic videos, colloquially referred to as deepfakes, could have dire implications for the U.S. and the world as their use increasing. The technology allows for one’s likeness to be replicated by another.
Unlike other forms of deception, the machine learning and artificial intelligence used to provide deepfake videos has a much higher potential to deceive a viewer.
In 2018, President Barack Obama’s likeness was used to present a video of a speech he had never given. Additionally, in 2020, a political group released a deepfake of a Prime Minister giving a speech linking COVID-19 to environmental damage.
The issue even forced Facebook to say it would ban manipulated videos posted to its platforms ahead of the 2020 Election.
The sponsors of the bills noted the legislation would not just protect against misrepresentations but democracy as a whole.
Protecting Politicians, Public
“Deepfake videos can be used to influence voters to believe in untruths without them even knowing the content was manipulated. These deceptive machine-learning, computer-generated videos, images or audio have no place in our democracy and that is why we are requiring that their use be disclosed,” said Assemblyman. Andrew Swicker (D-16), who served as a co-sponsor of A-4985 which would prohibit the use of deepfakes 60 days ahead of an election.
Additionally, Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-6) noted A-3006 would protect a wide variety of individuals as it would required a declaration of alteration.
“We’ve seen ‘deepfakes’ created to attack celebrities, they’ve misappropriated the images of women without their consent and, more recently, have been used in political campaigns to tarnish a candidate’s image,” she said.