Michigan to Regulate AI Political Ads as Federal Legislation Is Pending


Michigan is set to enact legislation to regulate the use of AI in political ads, as concerns grow about the impact of deepfakes on the 2024 elections. The state law would require clear disclosure of AI use and ban AI-generated deepfakes close to election days.

Michigan Joins Effort to Regulate AI Political Ads

Michigan is poised to join several other states in implementing policies to address the deceptive use of artificial intelligence (AI) in political advertising. The move comes amid ongoing discussions at the federal level about regulating AI and manipulated media in the lead-up to the 2024 elections.

Concerns Over Misuse of Generative AI in Elections

There are growing concerns that generative AI could be exploited in the upcoming presidential race to mislead voters, impersonate candidates, and undermine the electoral process. The rapid advancement and increasing accessibility of this technology have raised fears about its potential misuse in political campaigns.

Michigan’s Legislation to Address AI Use in Political Ads

The legislation in Michigan is expected to require political campaigns to clearly disclose the use of artificial intelligence in creating advertisements airing in the state. It will also prohibit the use of AI-generated deepfakes within 90 days of an election without a separate disclosure identifying the media as manipulated.

Examples of AI Misuse in Political Advertising

Notable instances of AI misuse in political advertising include an AI-generated ad released by the Republican National Committee, featuring fake yet realistic images portraying a dystopian future under a reelected President Joe Biden. Additionally, a super PAC supporting Republican Governor Ron DeSantis used an AI voice cloning tool to imitate former President Donald Trump’s voice in a social media post.

State-Level Efforts to Regulate Deepfakes in Political Advertising

Several states, including California, Minnesota, Texas, and Washington, have already enacted laws aimed at regulating deepfakes in political advertising. Similar legislation has been proposed in states such as Illinois, Kentucky, New Jersey, and New York. Michigan’s forthcoming law would mandate clear disclosure of AI use in political ads, with specific requirements for text and video formats.

Penalties for Violating AI Regulation Laws

Under the proposed legislation, campaigns that violate the AI regulation laws could face misdemeanor charges, including potential imprisonment and fines. The attorney general or harmed candidates could seek legal recourse against those responsible for deceptive AI-generated media.

Federal Efforts to Address Deepfakes in Political Advertising

At the federal level, lawmakers have emphasized the need to legislate against deepfakes in political advertising, with a bipartisan Senate bill seeking to ban ‘materially deceptive’ deepfakes related to federal candidates. However, as of now, Congress has not passed any legislation specifically addressing this issue.

Calls for Federal Support in Addressing AI Challenges

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has highlighted the limitations of federal law in regulating AI at the state and local levels. Benson called for federal funding to help states deal with the challenges posed by AI and to educate voters about identifying deepfakes. The Federal Election Commission has also taken steps to consider regulating AI-generated deepfakes in political ads but has not yet made a ruling.

Social Media Companies’ Measures Against Deepfakes

Social media giants, including Meta (owner of Facebook and Instagram) and Google, have introduced policies requiring political ads created using AI to be disclosed as such. These measures aim to mitigate the dissemination of harmful deepfakes on their platforms.