Colorado Cracks Down on AI Deceptions in Campaign Ads

Colorado Governor signs into law AI disinformation bill, days after similar FCC proposal

Colorado Cracks Down on AI Deceptions in Campaign Ads
Photo of Colorado State Capitol building from Library of Congress

May 31, 2024 - Colorado passed a law requiring political campaign material to prominently display any use of deep fakes related to electoral candidates, making Colorado the latest state to implement precautions against potential artifcial intelligence-induced disinformation.

The new law was signed by Gov. Jared Polis on Saturday, just days after Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel released a similar proposal, which would require labeling of AI-generated political ads aired on broadcast radio and TV.

The Colorado law requires a disclaimer on all campaign communication that uses deepfakes to alter or misrepresent any electoral candidate.

The law reflects a broader trend of legislative action to counter the threat of AI to election integrity. States that have adopted similar laws include Wisconsin, which impose a $1,000 fine per disclaimer violation, and Florida, which makes the absence of a disclaimer a criminal misdemeanor.

Colorado’s law is predicated on the view that deep faking information in campaign material can be deceptive and harmful.

“A voter's opinion of a candidate may be irreparably tainted by a fabricated representation of a candidate or elected official saying or doing something they did not say or do,” the law reads.

The law also claims that deepfaking individuals is analogous to that person being forced to say something under duress.

The law outlines the criteria for valid disclaimers, including that they must be “clear” and “conspicuous.” For visual media, disclaimers must appear in a font size no smaller than the largest font used, and for audio media, it must be read aloud in a manner similar to the rest of the ad’s’ narration.

Furthermore, any campaign communication’s metadata, the descriptive information of content, must include a disclosure that is either permanent or cannot be easily removed by subsequent users.

Individuals can report violations of the law to Colorado’s Secretary of State for subsequent review and potential prosecution. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold praised the legislation for safeguarding the public against disinformation.

“This law will help ensure Coloradans know when communications featuring candidates or officeholders are deepfaked,” Griswold said. 

The bill has drawn some criticism from Colorado House Republicans, who warned against giving the Secretary the power to act as an “arbiter of truth.”

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