Berman Introduces Legislation to Combat Nefarious ‘Deepfakes,’ Protect Election Integrity

Monday, June 24, 2019

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) has introduced legislation in response to growing concerns about the use of ‘deepfakes’ to interfere in the 2020 election and influence political discourse. Assembly Bill 730 would prohibit a person, within 60 days of an election, from knowingly or recklessly distributing deceptive audio or visual media of a candidate with the intent to injure the candidate’s reputation or deceive a voter into voting for or against the candidate, unless specified disclosure requirements are met. 

“Deepfakes are a powerful and dangerous new technology that can be weaponized to sow misinformation and discord among an already hyper-partisan electorate,” said Assemblymember Berman. “Deepfakes distort the truth, making it extremely challenging to distinguish real events and actions from fiction and fantasy. AB 730 seeks to protect voters from being tricked and influenced by manipulated videos, audio recordings, or images before an election.”

While high quality deepfake videos can be very difficult to detect, even low-quality video manipulation can spread quickly on social media platforms and cause harm. The manipulation of the video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose speech was altered to make it seem as though she was drunk at a speaking engagement, was very low quality but was still viewed over three million times.

That is why ‘deepfakes,’ – computer-generated photos and videos that are nearly impossible to detect – are even more threatening. The widely available artificial intelligence technology allows for the creation of lifelike photos and videos of someone falsely appearing to say or do something. By blurring truth and fiction, deepfakes make it significantly easier to pass off fake events as real and dismiss real events as fake.

If signed into law, AB 730 would allow a registered voter to seek injunctive and other equitable relief prohibiting the distribution of the deceptive audio or visual media, defined as an “image or audio or video recording that has been intentionally manipulated in such a manner that it would falsely appear to a reasonable observer to be an authentic record of the actual speech or conduct of the candidate.” A candidate whose voice or likeness appears in the deceptive audio or visual media could also seek general or special damages.

 

Contact: Kaitlin Curry, (916) 319, 2024