Senator Amy Klobuchar never seems to give up on her efforts to restrict political speech. Even after her failed efforts at enacting regulations for “Honest Ads” and last Congress’ S. 1 effort (nicknamed the “Corrupt Politicians Act”), the Senate Rules Chair is back with a new effort to restrict the speech of non-Democrats. This time, it is the Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act (S. 2770). As Senator Bill Hagerty pointed out at a Senate Rules hearing earlier this week:
The lack of a definition of artificial intelligence (AI) in this legislation is extremely troubling for free speech. S. 2770 would give un-elected, un-appointed career staff in the FEC’s Office of General Counsel initial authority to make recommendations to the Commission on whether AI-generated content is “materially deceptive.”
Rules Chair Klobuchar is using the fear of AI to justify restricting speech. Putting aside the overblown nature of the fear, Ari Cohn of TechFreedom explains:
2770 would still likely be unconstitutional because counterspeech provides a less restrictive alternative. There is no obvious reason why [Deceptive AI-generated audio or visual media] could not be countered with true speech, in the way that manually edited deceptive media is. Indeed, the staggering breadth and temporal scope of S. 2770 indicates that no consideration has been given at all to the types of prohibited speech that might effectively be countered with more speech. The freedom to engage with a diverse array of political speech and determine for ourselves what is true and what is false is sacrosanct. The government is not free to discard this principle so easily to assuage moral panic
In addition to the constitutional infirmities detailed above, S. 2770 presents an exceptionally high risk of chilling and censoring protected political expression due to its enforcement mechanism.
As if those problems are not enough, S.2770 exempts a major Democrat ally—the legacy media—much like the prior "Honest Ads" legislation exempted labor unions. While reasonable people can discuss the need for AI election legislation, such bias is not acceptable, and we must tread very carefully. Senate Rules Ranking Member Senator Deb Fischer points out:
Great point by @SenatorFischer "we must carefully scrutinize any policy proposals that would restrict [free] speech. As Congress examines [AI] we need to strike a careful balance between protecting the public, protecting innovation, and protecting speech." #FreeSpeech— RNLA ⚖️ (@TheRepLawyer) September 27, 2023
Senator Klobuchar's latest effort to restrict free speech is the real deception here, not AI.