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Sen. Amy Klobuchar on deepfakes: "This is just going to keep happening"
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Sen. Amy Klobuchar on deepfakes: "This is just going to keep happening"

Ep. 2 — Sen. Amy Klobuchar (1-23-2024)
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Ceiling in the US Capitol. Photo: Matt Laslo

Who?

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) — serves on both Senate Judiciary & Commerce Committees

Ask a Pol asked:

Is there any chatter or movement on your deepfake legislation?

Clutch Klobuchar: 

““Well, I hope so. I guess it’s gotten frontpage interest now. And this is what I said: hair on fire — we can’t wait until next year to get this done. This is just going to keep happening, and that’s why this banning deepfake ads — and by the way, the bill actually would cover what happened with the robocall. So it’s not just ads that you would see that are paid, it’s using deepfakes in a political campaign, to raise money or influence an election in any way…”

Interview helped inform this feature:

‘Abuse’: Politicians are fretting about AI stealing their faces and voices, by Matt Laslo, 1-26-2024*

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*I do dozens of interviews for most features, but only a handful of them make the cut — the others help me write so authoritatively.

LISTEN: Laslo & Klobuchar

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Below find a rough transcript of Ask a Pol’s exclusive interview with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), slightly edited for clarity.

TRANSCRIPT: Sen. Amy Klobuchar

Matt Laslo: “Hey senator, I was wondering if there’s any chatter or movement on your deepfake legislation?”

Amy Klobuchar: “Well, I hope so. I guess it’s gotten frontpage interest now. And this is what I said: hair on fire — we can’t wait until next year to get this done. This is just going to keep happening, and that’s why this banning deepfake ads — and by the way, the bill actually would cover what happened with the robocall. So it’s not just ads that you would see that are paid, it’s using deepfakes in a political campaign, to raise money or influence an election in any way. So it actually covers what happened with the robocall, and I keep adding Republicans, [Sen. Pete] Rickets (R-NE) is on it now. And, as you know, [Sen. Josh] Hawley (R-MO) is the lead Republican. And they’ve done in states blue and red. They’ve done it in Texas. But those things only apply to state campaigns, and that’s why this has got to be a priority in our AI legislation — doing it on its own or doing it as part of the package, it has to happen soon. We can’t wait. And there’s two things we have to do: one is the disclaimers and the watermarks, which some of the companies are doing voluntarily. But that is not going to be enough. You’re not going to have a fake Joe Biden make a call or a fake Donald Trump, and then at the end you go: ‘Oh by the way, this was created by AI.’ It’s not going to work. And so that’s why you have to ban the actual deepfakes where people — it’s pretty simple to define. You have to have an exception for satire under the Supreme Court precedent, which we do. We’ve had Democratic and Republican lawyers look at it. Anyone that thinks it’s something, look at it, helping one side or another, the fact that I’m doing it with Hawley should be an answer to you on that. It’s not. It’s just the right thing to do for our democracy.”

ML: “How would what we all just witnessed in New Hampshire have played out differently under your legislation?”

AK: “It would have been banned, and it would have been whoever — and remember, the company did that, right? And now they’ve been — someone did that. And so at least going into it, people that might think that they could participate in something like that would know that it was against the law from the very beginning. It allows — imagine if these deepfakes start going on all the platforms, and some of them are big, some of them are small. This would be very clear they have to take them down immediately and it will also in the middle of a political campaign allow them to say: ‘The law says we have to take this down, this isn’t satire.’ TV does this all the time. TV decides there’s ads they can allow. They look at them and say, ‘Do they meet the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] standards or not?’ Well, this would be the same kind of thing for deepfakes. I’ve got to go…”

Reporter: “Your bill is not new, why hasn’t it gotten attention?”

AK: “That’s because we’re working on a package on AI, Sen. [Chuck] Schumer is, and so it’s part of that package. I hope it will be. And this should guarantee that we get more Republican senators strongly saying this is wrong.”

Reporter: “Thank you, senator.”

ML: “Thank you so much, ma’am.”

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Matt Laslo covers tech politics for WIRED, lectures on technology’s impact on government at Johns Hopkins and is the founder of Ask a Pol — a new people-powered press corps. On social @MattLaslo // @Ask_a_Pol

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