Michigan, Minnesota laws ban ‘deep fakes’ in election campaigns

February 26, 2024

Two states in the Midwest are among the first in the nation to have laws on the books that regulate the use of artificial intelligence in elections. As part of the recently enacted Michigan bills (HB 5141 and HB 5143 and HB 5144 and 5145), signed into law near the tail end of 2023, the use of AI must be acknowledged in any political advertisements that use it.

AI is newly defined in the state’s campaign finance laws as “a machine-based system that can, for a given set of human-defined objectives, make predictions, recommendations or decisions influencing real or virtual environments.”

Michigan now explicitly bars political campaigns’ use of “materially deceptive media” generated by AI. This includes false depictions of candidates (things they didn’t say, actions they didn’t take) that intentionally harm their reputations or electoral chances. The new prohibition on “deep fakes” does not apply, however, if a “clearly visible” disclaimer alerts viewers that the image, audio or video “has been manipulated by technical means and depicts speech or conduct that did not occur.”

Minnesota was the first Midwestern state to criminalize the use of deep-fake technologies to influence elections with the passage of HF 1370. Signed into law in May 2023, this measure also cracks down on individuals who intentionally disseminate a deep fake that realistically (and falsely) depicts another person as naked or engaged in a sexual act.

Late last year, The Council of State Governments conducted a 50-state analysis of new laws designed to regulate the design, development and use of artificial intelligence. Seventeen U.S. states had adopted 29 bills as of December 2023, including measures to protect individuals’ data privacy, prevent abusive data practices and discrimination, and require disclosure from employers or businesses when AI is being used.