Two deepfake bills to be heard in committee this week

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear two bills regulating the use of deepfake technology on Tuesday, both authored by Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto).

The first bill, AB 602, provides a civil cause of action for individuals whose likenesses are used without their consent in deepfakes that depict sexual conduct, as defined. The version of AB 602 being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee is not the same bill that was passed by the Assembly, though. After reaching the Senate, the bill was amended to mirror the language of Senator Connie Leyva’s (D-Chino) SB 564 that was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this year.

Though AB 602 still serves the same basic purpose, it is much broader in its amended form. CNPA has taken an oppose unless amended position on the latest version AB 602 and will be working on having the bill amended to address First Amendment concerns.

The second bill, AB 730, is aimed at preventing the use of deepfake technology in political communications. The bill would prohibit the distribution of a manipulated image, video, or audio recording of a candidate for election that appears to be authentic if the distribution is made within 60 days of an election and is done with the intent to injure the candidate’s reputation or to deceive a voter into voting for or against the candidate, unless the image or recording includes a disclaimer that it has been manipulated.

A person found to have violated this prohibition could be required to pay general and special damages to the candidate, and could be required by the court to pay the candidate’s attorney’s fees and costs.

CNPA is opposed to AB 730 because it is unnecessary, ineffective, and places an unconstitutional burden on political speech, which lies at the core of the First Amendment’s protections.