Tuesday, 16 July 2024

AB 2839 to defend democracy from deceptive deepfakes

Assemblymember Gail Pellerin (D-Santa Cruz) has introduced AB 2839 to crack down on AI-generated deepfakes that spread misleading information about elections, including candidates running for office and voting logistics.

Specifically, AB 2839 prohibits a person from knowingly distributing digitally modified and materially deceptive communications about candidates running for office, elected officials, elections officials, voting procedures and sites, and equipment used to conduct an election.

These prohibitions would apply to AI-generated deepfake audio, images, and videos, 120 days before an election inclusive to 60 days following the election.

The bill is timely, following an AI-influenced general election in Argentina and coming weeks after a deepfake audio recording impersonating President Biden which sought to discourage Democratic voters from voting in the New Hampshire primary election.

“There have always been bad actors who try to wreak havoc on elections. I remember an election where people distributed door hangers which gave people the wrong polling location in order to disrupt the election outcome,” said Assemblymember Gail Pellerin. “But now the widespread access to generative AI is making that type of damage so much more sophisticated and easier to disseminate.”

Assemblymember Pellerin served as the chief elections official in Santa Cruz County for 27 years. She also served as President of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials from 2010 to 2012 and currently chairs the Assembly Committee on Elections.

“Getting the right information to voters is crucial to a functioning democracy, and it becomes very difficult to ensure the integrity of the election when these deepfakes are spread online to intentionally misinform voters,” said Assemblymember Pellerin.

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