Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Carr Condemns Rosenworcel’s Effort to Regulate AI-Generated Political Ads

"The type of government intervention envisioned by this plan would only do more harm than good"

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has expressed some strong sentiments following news of a proposal that would regulate the use of artificial intelligence in political ads.

On Thursday, May 23, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced that she is circulating a proposal which, if adopted, would look into whether the agency should require an on-air and written disclosure when there is AI-generated content in political ads on radio and TV. The proposal would also request comment on a “specific definition” for what constitutes AI-generated content.

In a statement released on the same day, Carr, a Republican, said “the FCC’s attempt to fundamentally alter the rules of the road for political speech just a short time before a national election is as misguided as it is unlawful.”

Carr said this effort by the chairwoman echoes a Democratic National Committee (DNC)-backed initiative at the Federal Election Commission to impose new regulations on AI-generated political speech before voters hit the ballot boxes this fall.

[Related: “Rosenworcel Circulates Proposal to Regulate AI Use in Political Ads“]

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr (Credit: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

According to an FCC press release, the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that Rosenworcel, a Democrat, hopes to open would initiate a proceeding that “recognizes consumers’ right to know when AI tools are being used in the political ads they view.”

In his own comments, Carr acknowledged that the use of AI-generated political content does present “complex questions” and “bipartisan concern about the potential for misuse”; however, he said the FCC does not have the authority to regulate political speech in this way.

“Congress has not given the FCC the type of freewheeling authority over these issues that would be necessary to turn this plan into law,” said Carr. “The type of government intervention envisioned by this plan would only do more harm than good.”

According to Rosenworcel’s draft NPRM, the FCC would apply the disclosure requirements to broadcasters and entities that engage in origination programming, including cable operators, satellite TV and radio providers and section 325(c) permittees. It might also consider applying disclosure rules to both candidate and issue advertisements in order to increase transparency.

With that language in mind, Carr said that the circulated proposal would only require AI-generated political ads that run on broadcast TV to come with a government-mandated disclaimer — but the exact same or similar ad that runs on a streaming service or social media site will not.

“I don’t see how this type of conflicting patchwork could end well,” said Carr. “Unlike Congress, the FCC cannot adopt uniform rules.”

He continued: “And applying new regulations on the broadcasters the FCC regulates but not on their largely unregulated online competitors only exacerbates regulatory asymmetries. All of this confirms that the FCC is not the right entity to consider these issues.”

Carr said a proposal of this kind is part of a broader effort to control political speech.

He asked: “Is the government really worried that voters will find these ads misleading in the absence of a regulator’s guiding hand? Or is the government worried that voters might find these ads effective?”

[Read More Radio World Stories About Artificial Intelligence]