Proposed crackdown on Iowa campaign ads that are ‘deep fakes’

DES MOINES — Iowa lawmakers are considering criminal charges for those who fail to disclose that a campaign ad is a “deep fake.”

The proposal comes as artificial intelligence can be used to generate fake video and audio of a candidate seeming to say something they’ve never said. Representative J.D. Scholten of Sioux City said A.I. is cutting edge technology that’s being used to try to influence elections.

“This bill matches the moment,” Scholten said. “Often legislation lags behind in technology and we understand the importance of the 2024 election and election integrity.”

A bill that passed the House on a 93-1 ast week requires “deep fake” ads for candidates or ballot initiatives in Iowa to include a disclaimer. That disclaimer has to say that the ad contains A.I. generated content that’s been manipulated. Representative Lindsay James of Dubuque called it an important step.

“We’re venturing into new waters here with this technology and I think it’s something we can be really proud of as a state that we are leading on this issue,” James said.

The bill also would prohibit the use of artificial intelligence in electronic systems that count or mark ballots in Iowa elections. The bill must clear the Senate State Government Committee by Friday to remain eligible for considerataion this year.

All the policy bills that have passed the House this year face Friday’s deadline to win Senate committee approval. Senate-passed bilsl have to win approval from a House committee by Friday as well. Bills that deal with state taxes or spending are eligible for debate at any time.