The US Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) top officials are divided over a proposal requiring broadcast radio and television political ads to disclose AI-generated content. FEC Vice Chair Ellen Weintraub expressed support on Thursday for the May proposal by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. The proposal seeks to mandate AI content disclosure in candidate and issue advertisements. FEC Chair Sean Cooksey criticised the plan.

Rosenworcel’s proposal, if implemented, would not ban AI-generated content in political ads but aims to increase transparency. Concerns are mounting in Washington that AI-generated content could mislead voters in the upcoming presidential and congressional elections. The FCC has noted that AI is likely to play a significant role in 2024 political ads, raising the potential for misleading “deep fakes” or altered media.

“It’s about disclosure,” Rosenworcel said, emphasising the FCC’s long history of requiring disclosures. She believes the FCC has sufficient legal authority to enforce such rules. Weintraub, in a letter to Rosenworcel, highlighted the public’s need for transparency regarding AI use in political advertisements and called for joint regulatory efforts by the FEC and FCC.

However, Cooksey argued that mandatory disclosures would “directly conflict with existing law and regulations, and sow chaos among political campaigns for the upcoming election.” He voiced concerns over the potential disruption mandatory AI disclosures could cause to political campaigns.

The proposed rule would necessitate on-air and written disclosures, covering cable operators, satellite TV, and radio providers. However, the FCC lacks the authority to regulate internet or social media ads, as well as streaming services. The agency has already initiated measures to address the misleading use of AI in political robocalls.

Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr criticised the proposal, suggesting that it would create inconsistency. “AI-generated political ads that run on broadcast TV will come with a government-mandated disclaimer but the exact same or similar ad that runs on a streaming service or social media site will not?” Carr questioned.

The spotlight on electoral AI content intensified in January after a fake robocall, imitating President Joe Biden, aimed to dissuade voters in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary election. This incident led to state charges against a Democratic political consultant responsible for the calls.