Wisconsin Political Ads Must Disclose if They Include AI-generated Content

Candidates and political groups will have to disclose when they use artificial intelligence to generate audio or video in ads aired in Wisconsin, according to a new law signed Thursday.

The bipartisan legislation comes in a national election year that some political experts say will be defined by AI-generated content and influence campaigns.

“This technology is not good or bad. Somebody can use AI to generate graphics to generate a jingle for a radio ad, to maybe make an animation that illustrates their views on the issues,” said Sen. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, who co-authored the bipartisan bill. “But they can also use it to make it look like their opponent said and did something they didn’t.”

The law requires any audio or video campaign materials — whether produced by a candidate, PAC or other campaign entity — to disclose at the start and end of an ad if they used “synthetic media,” or media that is “substantially produced by means of generative artificial intelligence.”

Groups that violate the requirement will face fines. At least four other states currently have disclosure laws on the books, including California and Michigan, and similar legislation is pending in a handful of others, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

When the bill passed the Assembly last month, Rep. Adam Neylon, R-Pewaukee, told colleagues AI was making it harder to know what’s real. Voters, he said, were being asked to determine truth from fiction.

“And to do that, they need the tools, they need disclosures, they need disclaimers when artificial intelligence is generating false representations,” Neylon said at the time.