FCC Suggests Requiring Labels on AI-Created Political Ads

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has suggested that AI-generated content in political ads should be disclosed, though not prohibited.

Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel officially proposed on Wednesday that the FCC investigate and seek feedback on this rule. (The agency has already deemed AI-generated robocalls illegal, primarily due to their non-compliance with automated call regulations rather than their AI origins.)

“Consumers deserve to know when AI tools are utilized in the political ads they encounter, and I hope [the commissioners] act quickly on this matter,” she stated in a release accompanying the announcement.

The proposed framework would mandate that both candidate and issue ads include an on-air and filed disclosure indicating the use of AI-generated content. This requirement would extend to “cable operators, satellite TV, and radio providers,” but not to streamers or platforms like YouTube, which the FCC does not have the statutory authority to regulate. An agreed-upon definition of AI-generated content would be necessary first.

This proposal is an inquiry, the initial public step towards developing new regulation. If adopted, the FCC would solicit comments on the necessity of the regulation, how to define the content, and other considerations. Unlike rule-making documents, these can be voted on at any time, making it possible — though unlikely — that the other Commissioners could approve it before the close of business Wednesday.

The FCC document highlights “a clear public interest obligation for Commission licensees, regulatees, and permittees to protect the public from false, misleading, or deceptive programming and to promote an informed populace.”

It intuitively seems that most individuals would prefer knowing when imagery, audio, or other content in a campaign ad is AI-generated. Such a regulation could also discourage low-effort AI-generated attempts and support actions against bad actors, like the dubious company responsible for fake Biden calls.

I’ve reached out to the FCC for more details on how this rule might overlap or interact with the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Election Commission, which govern advertising and campaign rules, respectively, and to find out the earliest this proposal could be enforced.

Devin Coldewey
Devin Coldewey
Devin Coldewey is a Seattle-based writer and photographer. He first wrote for TechCrunch in 2007. Devin covers many topics in technology, science, and space. In the past, he has written for MSNBC.com, NBC News, DPReview, and others. He has also appeared on radio, television, and in print.

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