You are currently viewing FCC's proposal to regulate AI in political ads is misguided, commissioner says – Fox Business

FCC's proposal to regulate AI in political ads is misguided, commissioner says – Fox Business

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week proposed a new regulation that would require the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in political advertisements to be disclosed, which has one commissioner slamming the move as regulatory overreach ahead of the election.

The proposal was put forward by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic appointee. It would start a rulemaking process to require the inclusion of a disclosure about the use of AI in candidate and issue advertisements. The proposal would not prohibit the use of AI-generated content in political ads, but it would require that TV and radio operators include the disclosure in the ads they air by campaigns and advocacy groups.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican appointee, told FOX Business in an interview that the move comes in the wake of reports by outlets such as The Associated Press that Democrats are concerned about their Republican rivals having an edge in the use of AI. 

“It’s important to think about the context in which this comes up,” Carr said. “Over the last few weeks and months, there’s been a lot of reporting that attributes perspectives either to the DNC or the Biden campaign itself expressing concern and nervousness that Democrats are falling behind Republicans and the Trump campaign in particular when it comes to the use of artificial intelligence in political ads in the run up to this fall’s election.”


FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr noted the proposal comes amid reports by media outlets that Democrats are concerned about Republicans having the edge in using AI. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images / Getty Images)

“Against the backdrop of increased reporting on Democrats’ concerns they’re falling behind Republicans, I think it’s interesting that the FCC – sort of out of left field – steps in with a proposal that would fundamentally alter the regulatory playing field with respect to AI and political ads, and doing in what would effectively amount to the eve of nationwide elections,” he explained.

Carr went on to say that the FCC does not have the authority to require such a disclosure on political ads that air on platforms other than TV and radio, which means the disclosure could be enforced unevenly for ads appearing on streaming services or social media platforms and confuse consumers.


The Federal Communications Commission is considering a rule that would require disclosures about the use of AI in political ads on TV and radio. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

“We don’t have a broad-based jurisdiction across all technologies on which political ads would be running,” Carr said. “The FCC’s assertion is that we could do this for broadcast radio and broadcast TV. But then you have a scenario in which an ad is running on broadcast TV, then someone sees it on a streaming service or a social media platform – you see it one time, and it’s got this disclosure that it’s made with AI, in the other context, you don’t see that.”

“Consumers don’t think about things they’re watching through FCC definitional and technical silos, they’re just watching content on screens,” he explained.

Carr also questioned whether the disclosure would help consumers understand how AI was used in an ad as they consider its credibility. “How useful is that to consumers? Like, am I seeing something that’s completely fake? Is it just that ChatGPT was used to assist in one sentence in the actual script that was used?”


“I think this is an issue better left for the [Federal Elections Committee], which is where Congress has sort of delegated authority in terms of an agency that can impose disclosure obligations with respect to candidates and political ads,” he added. “At a minimum, the FCC needs to make clear it’s not going to upend the apple cart when it comes to political speech right on the eve of a contested national election.”

An FCC spokesperson told FOX Business, “This is the first election cycle with the widespread use of AI generative technology. As with any potential rulemaking, we welcome a range of perspectives on the impact of AI on our democratic elections.”


FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel proposed the rule regarding AI disclosures in political ads. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

In her announcement of the proposed rule, Chairwoman Rosenworcel wrote, “As artificial intelligence tools become more accessible, the Commission wants to make sure consumers are fully informed when the technology is used. Today, I’ve shared with my colleagues a proposal that makes clear consumers have a right to know when AI tools are being used in the political ads they see, and I hope they swiftly act on this issue.”

The announcement noted that the “use of AI is expected to play a substantial role in the creation of political ads in 2024 and beyond, but the use of AI-generated content in political ads also creates a potential for providing deceptive information to voters, in particular, the use of ‘deep fakes’ – altered images, videos, or audio recordings that depict people doing or saying things that [they] did not actually do or say, or events that did not actually occur.”


The FCC, which has a 3-2 majority of Democratic commissioners, is reviewing the proposal. If a majority of the commissioners vote to adopt the proposal, it would launch a public comment period on the proposed rules that would precede the regulation being finalized.