The United States Federal Election Commission has pushed a petition forward in a unanimous vote on Aug. 10, which would potentially regulate deep fakes in political ads that were generated by artificial intelligence (AI).

The petition targets ads that use AI to portray political opponents acting or saying things that they did not, ahead of the 2024 elections.

Robert Weissman, the president of the advocacy organization behind the petition, Public Citizen, called deep fakes a “significant threat to democracy.”

“The FEC must use its authority to ban deep fakes or risk being complicit with an AI-driven wave of fraudulent misinformation and the destruction of basic norms of truth and falsity.”

Already, instances have been seen of candidates using fake, AI-generated images as a part of their campaigns. Flordia governor Ron DeSantis, who is up for the Republican nomination, spread three images of the former U.S. president Donald Trump embracing Dr. Anthony Fauci.

In the FEC meeting, Public Citizen asked for clarification on an already existing law that aims to prevent “fraudulent misrepresentation” in political campaigns and if AI deep fakes are included.

Lisa Gilbert, the executive vice president of Public Citizen said:

“The need to regulate deep fakes and other deceptive uses of AI in election ads becomes more urgent with each passing day.”

The FEC decided to push the petition forward, with the next step being a 60-day public comment period, which Gilbert called an “encouraging sign” of AI’s threat to democracy being “taken seriously” by regulators.

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Craig Holman, Ph.D., a lobbyist for government affairs with Public Citizen, commented on the public comment period saying:

“A public comment period will provide a critical forum for policy advocates, experts, and voters to express their concerns about a potential deluge of deep fake ads in the upcoming election cycle.”

This latest move follows the initial petition filing from Public Citizen back in July. The petition stressed the same sentiment highlighting that deep fakes could go so far as “swing election results.”

Following the publication of the first petition, members from both chambers of the U.S. Congress responded with letters of support.

Cointelegraph reached out to Public Citizen for further comment on their efforts on the issue. 

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