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11 States Now Have Laws Limiting Artificial Intelligence, Deep Fakes, and Synthetic Media in Political Advertising – Looking at the Issues

 |  April 30, 2024

By: David Oxenford (Broadcast Law Blog)

Artificial Intelligence dominated discussions at the NAB Convention last week. Virtually every session featured some discourse on the implications of AI. One topic we’ve extensively covered is AI’s impact on political advertising. Legislative attention to this matter surged in the first quarter of 2024, with over 40 state legislatures considering bills to regulate AI, “deep fakes,” or “synthetic media” in political ads. Some bills aimed to ban AI’s use altogether, while most allowed it with disclosure requirements, ensuring the public is informed that the depicted images or voices are not real.

By the end of the first quarter, only 11 states had enacted laws regarding AI in political ads, up from 5 in December, notably including Michigan’s late 2023 legislation. Joining this list in 2024 are Idaho, Indiana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wisconsin, alongside Michigan, California, Texas, Minnesota, and Washington State.

Media entities, including broadcasters, must meticulously review these laws, as each is distinct, lacking a standardized approach. Penalties range from criminal sanctions to civil liabilities. Understanding the nuances of these bills is crucial for media companies as we head into an election season marked by increasingly aggressive political attacks.

While some laws specifically target the creators of political ads, others have broader wording, extending liability to those who disseminate the ads. This potentially exposes media companies to legal risks, especially if AI-containing ads are not properly labeled. Most states with enacted laws offer exemptions for broadcasters, but compliance often requires adopting and publicizing policies prohibiting the use of AI in political ads without meeting disclosure requirements. Therefore, media companies operating in these states must promptly adopt and disseminate such policy statements…