WASHINGTON - At a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing titled “The NO FAKES Act: Protecting Americans from Unauthorized Digital Replicas,” U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) spoke about her support of the NO FAKES Act and urged action to protect individuals from the impact of unauthorized artificial intelligence (AI)-generated replicas. The NO FAKES Act is a bipartisan proposal that would protect the voice and visual likeness of all individuals from unauthorized recreations from generative AI. Senator Klobuchar is a lead sponsor of the legislation. 

A rough transcript of Klobuchar’s remarks is available below. Video is available HERE for download.

Senator Klobuchar: Professor Ramsey, since you ended there, [I will] pick up where you were about some of these and some of the other witnesses mentioned, about this deepfakes and how some of these things, whether it's sexually explicit images or whether it is the political robo calls or videos or ads, and I wasn't going to start this way but makes sense here because of what you just said. To me, some of this we just have to get off there. They're not going to be able to listen to a major candidate for president for three minutes and then look and see a label, and I think that in other countries, that's what they've done. That's why Senator Hawley, and Senator Coons, and Collins, and a number of other senators have come together. We're marking up this bill along with a labeling bill and the Rules Committee on elections. Could you talk about why that kind of targeted approach to some of these, like hair on fire things is very important, given the timing of all of this?

Lisa P. Ramsey: So, as you can expect, I love the fact that you're working on these targeted laws, but again, one of the things we need to do is protect ordinary people from impersonation. Over Thanksgiving, someone called my dad when I was standing right next to him, it sounded just like my brother, and he said he was in jail and he needed money to get out of jail. And my dad was not duped by this, but you know, the fact–some people have been as the senators have noted, so I think it's a great idea, but I think that, you know, we still need, over the more broad act, to deal with these kinds of issues, for folks that are not politicians, etc.

Klobuchar: Exactly.  My state director’s son is in the Marines, and her husband got a call where it was an [impersonation,] they scraped his voice. They didn't know where he was stationed, so we're going to see all of this deployed against military families as well. Really, all these kinds of scams, so it's going to be. I see this, you know, [AI] having some of [] great uses, especially in health care of AI, but then there's the hell part, and that should be our job to try to put in the guardrails in place, which is why I'm so honored to be working with Senator Coons and Tillis and Blackburn on this bill.  One of the things that interests me during the testimony you, Mr. Sheffner, and Mr. Crabtree-Ireland, you kind of got to this, but both the No FAKES Act and this election bill include exemptions, exceptions for the use of digital replicas to ensure the bills do not show speech protected by the First Amendment. Can you talk a little bit more as we look at how we can write these in a way? And I have tried with exceptions for satire in the elections bill, with Senator Hawley. How we can do this to ensure that common sense safeguards do not show protected speech and that this is upheld in court?

Ben Sheffner: Right. So, Senator Klobuchar, I just want to say, agreeing with Professor Ramsey, that I think your approach of having specific legislation on pornographic deepfakes, other legislation on election-related defects is really the right way to go. When you have a broad bill that essentially says you need permission to use digital replicas and then let courts kind of sort it all out, that's where you get into trouble, and you have an overbroad bill that is going to necessarily end up encompassing, protected speech, makes it vulnerable to being struck down on overbreadth grounds. So these kinds of exceptions, I think are specific to the type of legislation. In the world of movies, our studios, the studios that we represent at the MPA make a lot of movies that are based on or inspired by real people and events. [I] went through this morning the last five years of all the Best Picture nominees. Over the last five years, approximately half were based on or inspired by real people and events. Our studios want to make sure that legislation like this doesn't interfere with their ability to do that. When you're talking about, say, non-consensual pornographic deep fakes, you don't need those exceptions for biopics and satire and parody. That stuff is bad in almost every circumstance you can think of, and I think this narrow, targeted approach is really the right way to go.

Klobuchar: Okay, so Mr. Duncan Crabtree-Ireland. You’ve got the best long name in the world. 

Duncan Crabtree-Ireland: Thank you.

Klobuchar: Could you talk about balancing that right of creators with the right of those whose voice or likeness may be at risk? You are sitting next to one of them right there with Twigs. And how do you believe we should balance that?

Crabtree-Ireland: Absolutely. I think we all agree that, obviously, the First Amendment has to be protected and that expressive speech is important. I think, you know, the exceptions that are written into this discussion draft now are not that far off. But I think it's important that they not be expanded upon nor that they be broader than necessary. Because the fact is, we can't anticipate what this technology is going to do tomorrow. We cannot anticipate every iteration of this, and while there are certain specific uses or concerns that are being addressed by legislation, like the legislation you've referenced, there is a broader need for protection. The example I gave in my opening statement is one, Twigs has given examples as they applied to her, and so we do need to have that proper balance. And so I am concerned that we are only looking at one side of the First Amendment consideration here. The other side of the First Amendment consideration is the right that each of us has to our own freedom of speech to be able to communicate our ideas, to associate ourselves with ideas that we want to associate with, and not be associated with ideas we disagree with. And that is being really trampled on right now by this unfettered ability of people without a federal right to do things like the deepfake I experienced that she experienced, etc. And so I do feel like the committee is going to have to work on you know, defining these exceptions, making sure they are no broader than necessary to keep the legislation viable. But also to make sure it doesn't swallow up the rule like the Chairman said. If we make them so broad that they swell up the rule that all of this work will have been for naught. And the reality is, today is not like 10 years ago. It's not like 30 years ago. This technology is fundamentally different, and what it can do with all of our faces and voices, calls out, it screams out for a remedy that's actually effective.

Klobuchar: And do you see, and maybe anyone, Twigs, any of you, Mr. Kyncl, to get this need for a national standard? Just because Senator Blackburn has worked with us on this bill and is going to be a co-sponsor. And they just did the Elvis act. Of course, in Minnesota, we have the Dylan Act and the Prince Act. No, I just made that up. But we do have people, as you know, who are fiercely, fiercely, independent, and protective of their incredible music in our state. But we have a common law in Minnesota, that's helpful. There's like this state, this state. Talk about a few if you if you want to. Just this need to have this national standard and why it's so important. 

Robert Kyncl: Maybe if I can chime in?

Klobuchar: Okay, Mr. Kyncl. 

Kyncl: So I just want to comment on some of the things from before, which is, as someone who grew up without the First Amendment, I value that probably more than those who have because I do not take it for granted at all. And it seems like it's well and alive in America because half of the movies who are nominated for Oscars were based on existing folks. So saying that any, you know, AI regulation that is respectful of the existing First Amendment is not reducing it [First Amendment protections]. It's keeping it as it is, and it's alive and well. So I do think that we need to stay within the limits of the First Amendment and not go beyond. As to national regulation, we work with global platforms. We're talking about global payments, not even national. We're talking about global platforms. Doing anything state by state is a very cumbersome process to access content getting on the platform unauthorized if we have to fight that on a state by state by state, it's untenable. It just doesn't work.

Klobuchar: Very good. Mr. Davies, that will be my last one, and then we'll go ahead.

Graham Davies: Thank you. I just need to reinforce what Rob has just said. Absolutely right. You know, music streaming is global. The success of this is having access to Twigs music from the UK or from Tennessee or wherever. So it's high volume. Anything that adds complexity on a state-by-state level is anathema to this industry. So, we were very strongly in favor of preemption.

Klobuchar: Very good. Just the last thing kind of along those lines is… don't laugh I heard you Coons. Just, it'll be very fast and can put it in writing, you, Mr. Davies. In January, we heard testimony that generative AI has been used to create unauthorized digital replicas of news anchors making comments, and we have a number of things going on in the journalism area. I have a vested interest. My dad was a journalist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, but also Senator Kennedy and I have to build to push for negotiation of the content and to get them reimbursed mainly from Google and Facebook for the use of this content. Something that's going on in Australia and Canada, and I will not go on. But what steps can streaming services take to ensure that unauthorized digital replicas of journalists are now posted on the streaming platform?

Davies: Senator, if I could follow up with you after I’m not briefed on that? 

Klobuchar: Okay, excellent. Thank you.

Klobuchar is a lead sponsor of the Nurture Originals, Foster Art, and Keep Entertainment Safe (NO FAKES) Act of 2023. The NO FAKES Act is a bipartisan proposal that would protect the voice and visual likeness of all individuals from unauthorized recreations from generative AI.