Hawaii Bill to Ban Deepfakes in Political Campaigns Draws First Testimony

A bill introduced in the Hawaii legislature aims to curb the spread of political misinformation by prohibiting the use of deceptive “deepfake” videos or audio clips of candidates within 90 days of an election.

House Bill 1766 had its first hearing before the House Committee on Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs on Tuesday, drawing testimony from government transparency advocates, media companies, and concerned citizens.

“The purpose of this Act is to hinder the spread of political misinformation in the State by prohibiting the distribution of electioneering communications before an election that a person knows or should have known are deceptive and fraudulent deepfakes of a candidate or party.”

— HB1766 (2024)

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence to make convincing fake videos or audio of real people appearing to say or do things they did not actually say or do. The bill’s sponsors say deepfakes could be used to intentionally mislead voters about a candidate’s positions or character.

The bill would bar distributing deepfakes of candidates or parties that a person “knows or should have known” are deceptive, with violations punishable by fines. It contains exceptions for media outlets that disclose if a video is synthetic or manipulated.

Supporters say the measure will boost election integrity. “Deceptive deepfakes have become a tool for political misinformation that further disrupts public trust in government,” said the executive director of the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission in written testimony.

The Motion Picture Association recommended tweaks to the bill but supports the intent. “Voters should know of any manipulation, by any means, of a candidate’s image or voice to make it appear that they did or said something that they did not,” said a spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the bill faced opposition from some who said it is too subjective. “What might be considered ‘misinformation’ or ‘deep fakes’ is too subjective and may be used to violate a person’s constitutional right to free speech,” wrote one opponent.

The fate of the bill remains uncertain as it continues through legislative committees. But the debate highlights how states are wrestling with the emerging challenge of high-tech electoral deception.

Photo courtesy Warren LeMay/Flickr (BY-SA). This article was drafted using artificial intelligence and edited by a human.

Hawaii AI

Hawaii AI uses generative artificial intelligence from a variety of platforms and providers that draw from both open-source and commercial Large Language Models (LLMs).