Yesterday, the California bans political deepfakes, government passed a law that makes it illegal to distribute deepfakes or deceptively edited videos and audio clips intended to damage a politician’s reputation or deceive someone into voting for or against a candidate.
Last week, the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom signed a law AB 730, which states that it is a crime to distribute audio or video that gives a false, damaging impression of a politician’s words or actions. The law applies to any candidate within 60 days of an election, but also includes exceptions. For example, the news media will be exempted from the requirement, and the videos made for satire or parody will also be exempted. Potentially deceptive video or audio will also be allowed if it includes a disclaimer noting that it’s fake. It also states that the law will sunset in 2023.
Marc Berman, a Democratic member of the California state assembly and chair of the Elections and Redistricting Committee, explained that he was motivated to introduce AB 730 ahead of the 2020 election due to concerns about voter manipulation: “Deepfakes are a powerful and dangerous new technology that can be weaponized to sow misinformation and discord among an already hyper-partisan electorate,” he said in a statement. “Deepfakes distort the truth, making it extremely challenging to distinguish real events and actions from fiction and fantasy.”
Thanks @GavinNewsom for signing #AB602 and #AB730. It's critically important that we crack down on both politically manipulative and nonconsensual pornographic #deepfakes. #ad24 https://t.co/dohfDFjJc8
— Marc Berman (@AsmMarcBerman) October 8, 2019
Challenges likely for California bans political deepfakes
Challenges are likely to arise in the enforcement of this legislation of California bans political deepfakes, given the extremely realistic nature of deepfake content. The legislation could also face legal challenges from groups citing the First Amendment right to free political expression; the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have criticized the law for potentially harming political speech.
At the same time Newson also signed in another bill, AB 602, that will allow victims of deepfake pornography to seek legal compensation if their image is manipulated for sexually explicit purposes without their consent. This law came into effect in connection with a recent report conducted by cybersecurity firm Deeptrace – which offers deepfake detection tools – estimated that 96% of deepfakes are pornographic, with 99% of them featuring women from the entertainment industry.
“When deepfake technology is abused to create sexually explicit material without someone’s permission, it can cause irreparable harm to a victim’s reputation, job prospects, personal relationships and mental health,” Berman said. “Women are disproportionately being harassed and humiliated when their photos are scraped from the internet and seamlessly grafted into pornographic content.”, he added.
On Hacker News, users are discussing that such state laws of California bans political deepfakes will not be able to change anything at a grass root level and propogandas will exist in one form or another.
One of them commented, “Propaganda will always exist in one form or another. State law is not going to change that or even put a dent in it.
The only decent option to fight propaganda is through the education system. The incoming generations should be armed with sharp critical thinking skills, common sense, and empathy (this one is especially important). There needs to be more demonstrative sessions in classrooms where students actively participate in distinguishing fake content from real ones (and specifically how they can deem it to be fake).
My kid’s public school does an ok job at teaching the above skills on a surface level, but it comes off as an afterthought as opposed to a primary lesson. I wish they would take it to a more granular level and make it a primary aspect of education.”
Update on 11th Oct, 2019
California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law gig worker protections bill AB-5. This comes shortly after AB-5 passed in the California State Assembly and Senate.
BREAKING: @GavinNewsom signs @CaliforniaLabor priority #AB51, landmark law to #EndForcedArbitration. Huge win for working ppl! Thank u Gov & author @LorenaSGonzalez! And so grateful for advocacy of @GretchenCarlson @MiraSorvino @Janefonda @ConsumerAttysCA @EqualRightsAdv & more!
— Steve Smith (@ssmith_calabor) October 11, 2019
“Today, we are disrupting the status quo and taking a bold step forward to rebuild our middle class and reshape the future of workers as we know it,” bill author and Assemblyperson Lorena Gonzalez said in a statement. “As one of the strongest economies in the world, California is now setting the global standard for worker protections for other states and countries to follow.”
AB-5 will help to ensure gig economy workers are entitled to minimum wage, workers’ compensation and other benefits by requiring employers to apply the ABC test. The bill, first introduced in December 2018, aims to codify the ruling established in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v Superior Court of Los Angeles. In that case, the court applied the ABC test and decided Dynamex wrongfully classified its workers as independent contractors.