Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Washington PDC seeks public comment on proposes rules on "Deepfake" political ads

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OLYMPIA - The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) is seeking public comment on proposed rules regarding the use of synthetic media, also known as "deepfakes," in political advertising.

Senate Bill 5152, passed in the 2023 legislative session, created a private cause of action that allows candidates to sue sponsors of electioneering communications that feature synthetic media of the candidate. Sponsors can avoid liability by including a disclaimer in the ad stating that it contains artificially manipulated content.

The Legislature directed the PDC to adopt rules to further the purpose of SB 5152. The proposed rules would amend sections of Washington Administrative Code to require:

  • Committees and sponsors of political ads using synthetic media to report the name of the vendor that provided the synthetic media technology, the commercial advertiser used, and a description of the ad's target audience. This information would be included in the sponsor's expenditure reports filed with the PDC.
  • Commercial advertisers selling synthetic media services for political ads to maintain books of account containing the above information, available for public inspection.

The draft rules are available for review on the PDC website. The Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed rules at their May 23, 2024 meeting. If adopted at that meeting, the rules would take effect in time for the 2024 election cycle.

Public comments on the draft rules are due by May 20 and can be emailed to pdc@pdc.wa.gov. Those wishing to provide comment at the May 23 hearing should sign up in advance by contacting the PDC.

The PDC is located at 711 Capitol Way S. #206, PO Box 40908, Olympia, WA 98504-0908. For more information visit www.pdc.wa.gov or call (360) 753-1111.

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