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Assembly Approves Bill to Shield Elections from Deceptive Online Deepfakes

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, Assemblymember Berman (D-Menlo Park) announced the passage through the Assembly of AB 2655, which will protect election integrity by requiring large online platforms to restrict, for a limited period, the posting and distribution of deceptive and digitally altered or created images, audio, or video recordings meant to give the impression that a candidate or elected official did or said something they did not do or say. This bill is an essential step to protect California’s democracy and voters from one of its current greatest threats: disinformation turbocharged by generative AI and deepfakes.

“We have entered the age of AI-generated disinformation, which poses a severe risk to our elections and our democracy. AB 2655 will ensure that online platforms restrict the spread of election-related deceptive deepfakes meant to prevent voters from voting or to deceive them based on fraudulent content," said Assemblymember Marc Berman. "Deepfakes are a powerful and dangerous tool in the arsenal of those who want to wage disinformation campaigns, and they have the potential to wreak havoc on our democracy by attributing speech and conduct to a person that is false or that never happened. Advances in AI over the last few years make it easy for practically anyone to generate this deceptive content, making it that much more important that we identify and restrict its spread before it has the chance to deceive voters and undermine our democracy."

“AI-powered disinformation is a dire threat to our democracy, and is emerging at a moment when our democracy is already badly weakened,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, California Common Cause’s executive director. “Using an unbiased, independent, interdisciplinary approach, CITED and our legislative partners have developed a legislative package that protects voters and the integrity of our elections, while upholding free speech and respecting technological innovation.”

Since 2020, voters have seen disinformation pollute our politics more than ever, and now with AI-generated deepfakes becoming a routine part of our information ecosystems, the issue is rapidly intensifying. We have already seen deepfakes destabilizing national elections in Argentina, Slovakia, Taiwan, Bangladesh, and the US presidential primary. Just as this problem is peaking, many technology and social media platforms are decreasing their investments in their trust and safety teams and walking away from any responsibility to address it. Voters are now left to pick up the pieces, not knowing what images, audio, and video they can trust.