What is a Deepfake, and why is the WA Public Disclosure Commission taking testimony about new rules on it?

Deepfake threatens already fragile information and news

A deepfake is an artificially generated audio or video recording made using AI. It can portray a person saying or doing things they didn't do--because they were never there. It is like a clone. Deepfakes are often referred to as synthetic media. 

Recently, the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit against a robocall company and an AI creator over 'fake' phone calls where the caller was made to sound like Joe Biden. The message told voters not to participate in the state's primary election. The phone number was spoofed to match that of the number of a spouse of a former high-level Democratic New Hampshire party chairman.

Now the WA PDC is considering rules that will be put in place to affect the upcoming 2024 state elections. According to the PDC:

"|Senate Bill 5152, passed in the 2023 legislative session, created a private cause of action against the sponsor of electioneering communications using synthetic media.  A candidate who is the subject of a deepfake could file a civil suit against the sponsor, unless the communication includes a disclaimer that it includes synthetic media."

The legislature told the PDC to adopt rules that go beyond the Senate Bill, including requirements that any entity that engages in political advertising as to publicly reveal any content that contains deepfakes. They would have to run a disclaimer with the content.

The PDC will be taking public comments on these rules, and to find out more about this issue, click here.

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