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Idaho Senate votes to require disclosure for AI political ads

James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio

Deep fake political ads are one step away from being banned in Idaho shortly ahead of the May primary election.

Generated through artificial intelligence, these ads can manipulate video footage or create realistic audio mimicking a person’s actual voice – in this case, a political candidate.

“This technology has now advanced to the point where it is cheap, simple to create and convincing,” said Senate Assistant Minority Leader James Ruchti (D-Pocatello).

Under the bill, anyone can still create deep fake political ads or content.

Anything using video would need to include legible text saying the footage or audio had been manipulated. Audio-only ads would also be required to include multiple disclosures at the beginning, end and sprinkled throughout the content.

“So that the public has confidence in the electoral system and can rest assured that when they see an ad what they’re seeing is true, or at least they understand what is fake,” Ruchti said.

Candidates would be able to sue content creators in civil court if they don’t include disclosures outlined under the bill.

Only Sen. Chris Trakel (R-Caldwell) spoke out against the proposal during Monday's debate.

“We’re going after something that I have no knowledge of being used here in Idaho, while at the same time we have very real lies being spread, and many of you are aware, by [political action committees] and large organizations,” Trakel said.

According to campaign finance reports, PACs spent $11.4 million statewide from Jan. 1, 2022 through Dec. 31, 2022 compared to the $19.8 million total spent during that same time period by candidates and special interest groups.

The bill ultimately cleared the Senate on a 23-11 vote.

It now goes to Gov. Brad Little’s desk for consideration. If signed into law, the legislation would take immediate effect.

Copyright 2024 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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