FCC proposes that all AI-generated content in political ads must be disclosed

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has raised a requirement that AI-generated content be disclosed in political ads, but not prohibited.

Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel made the official proposal Wednesday that the FCC investigate and seek comment on such a rule. (The agency already ruled that AI-generated robocalls were illegal, but it was more about them not conforming to robocall rules than the AI ​​piece.)

“Consumers have a right to know when artificial intelligence tools are used in the political ads they see, and I hope that [the commissioners] act quickly on this issue,” he said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

Under the planned framework, both candidate and issue ads would have to include an on-air and archived disclosure that AI-generated content was used. This would apply to “cable operators, radio and satellite TV providers,” but not streamers or, say, YouTube, which the FCC lacks legal authority to regulate. There would first have to be an agreed definition of AI-generated content.

The proposal is of the fact-finding type, the first public step in developing a new regulation. If adopted, the FCC would seek comments on whether the regulation is necessary to begin with, how the content should be defined, etc. Unlike a policy document, these can be voted on at any time, so it is conceivable (although unlikely) that the other commissioners could give the go-ahead before the close of business on Wednesday.

The FCC document describes “a clear public interest obligation for the Commission’s licensees, regulators, and permit holders to protect the public from false, misleading, or deceptive programming and to promote an informed public.”

It certainly seems intuitively true that most people would like to have some sort of indication when the images, audio, or anything else in a campaign ad is generated with AI; Such a regulation would also likely deter attempts to do so with little effort and help build a foundation for going after bad actors like the shady company behind Biden’s hoax calls.

I asked the FCC for a little more information about where this rule would overlap or interact with the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Election Commission (which govern advertising and campaign rules, respectively), and when is the earliest we could hope that this proposal is in force.

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