Feb 12, 2024 - News

Indiana's plan to combat election deepfakes

Illustration of a vote button stacked atop pixelated buttons

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

A bill requiring disclaimers on some political ads that have been digitally altered or created with generative AI is moving through the Indiana Statehouse.

Why it matters: We're heading into the first major election cycle in which artificial intelligence will be widely available to voters, governments and political campaigns — and the rules for its use in politics aren't clearly defined.

Threat level: Conditions are ripe for bad actors to use generative AI to amplify efforts to suppress votes, libel candidates and incite violence, Axios' Ryan Heath writes.

  • The few guardrails in place are voluntary — including those demanded by the White House.

Zoom in: Besides voting for president this fall, Hoosier voters will choose a U.S. senator, nine U.S. House members, more than 100 state legislators and three statewide elected officials, including a new governor.

Details: The bill proposed by Rep. Julie Olthoff (R-Crown Point) requires political ads made without a candidate or officeholder's consent that contain digitally altered or AI-generated images, video or audio include a disclaimer about its use.

  • The measure also allows candidates and officeholders to sue the people who paid for or sponsored the ad if it doesn't include the disclaimer.

State of play: Olthoff's bill passed the House unanimously last month.

  • It will get its first Senate hearing during a committee meeting this morning.

What they're saying: "With AI on the rise, particularly as we head into the 2024 elections, we must adapt our laws to protect Hoosiers from fabricated or altered political ads, which can easily spread misinformation and mistrust," Olthoff said.

Zoom out: As of last month, Indiana was one of 27 states that have introduced laws regulating deepfakes in elections.

  • Five states — Washington, California, Texas, Minnesota and Michigan — have already passed legislation, per the consumer advocacy watchdog group Public Citizen.

Go deeper: Can you spot deepfakes? Take our quiz.

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