California Governor Signs into Law New Ban on Certain Political “Deep Fakes”; I Expect a Serious First Amendment Challenge


With deepfake technology producing realistically modified digital content at a steeply increasing rate, California’s governor Gavin Newsom is taking a series of legal steps to avoid such technology from damaging the state’s political integrity and protect residents from having their faces placed on pornographic content. 
Newsom passed two bills late last week protecting the state’s residents from potential dangers resulting from deep fake technology. The first one would prohibit people from “distributing with actual malice materially deceptive audio or visual media of the candidate with the intent to injure the candidate’s reputation or to deceive a voter into voting for or against the candidate,” unless it’s been specifically stated that the content is manipulated. This would reduce the distribution of misinformation about individuals running for office.

I believe there are serious constitutional questions with the new law, and I contrast it with my own proposal for regulating certain deep fakes in my upcoming Childress Lecture (being delivered Friday), “Deep Fakes, Bots, and Siloed Justices: American Election Law in a Post-Truth World.”

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