New U.S. Senate Bill Would End Section 230 Immunity Protections for Generative AI

A new bill in the U.S. Senate would end Section 230 protections for legal claims based on generative artificial intelligence (AI).

The bipartisan bill, introduced by Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and titled “No Section 230 Immunity for AI Act,” would allow individuals targeted by “deepfakes” and other generative AI content to sue the creators, publishers and web sites hosting the content.

Under Section 230, web site owners and internet companies are generally exempt from legal liability for content published by users of their sites.

The senators believe deepfakes – which realistically replace one person in a video with the representation of another individual – can have devastating consequences. 

Deepfakes often depict the “deepfaked” individual acting or saying things that could harm or destroy their reputation. Even with current AI technology, the videos are so realistic that a viewer may not be able to discern that the production is fake.

The proposal seeks to make companies accountable for the creation and dissemination of such content.

Addressing Accountability in Generative AI

Senator Hawley has emphasized that individuals need to maintain the right to pursue claims against companies that allow users to create and publish generative AI in ways that could impact another individual’s reputation.  The proposed legislation aims to provide victims with their day in court and make companies liable for their actions.

Senator Blumenthal has also highlighted the importance of AI companies taking responsibility for their business decisions during the development of products. The legislation seeks to remove the legal shield provided by Section 230, forcing AI companies to be accountable for content generated by their AI models, even if they had no role in directing or creating the work.

The senators believe that these steps are crucial in establishing a framework for AI regulation that targets risks and safeguards the public.

Key Provisions of the “No Section 230 Immunity for AI Act”

The Act would amend Section 230 by adding a clause that removes immunity from AI companies in civil claims or criminal prosecutions related to the use or provision of generative AI.

The legislation would allow individuals who have suffered as a result of generative AI to sue companies in federal or state court, enabling them to seek appropriate legal remedies.

The proposed bill follows a high-profile Senate hearing.

Prior to introducing their legislation, Senators Hawley and Blumenthal held a hearing on AI oversight featuring Sam Altman, OpenAI’s CEO, who acknowledged that the rapid advancements in generative AI technology, including large language models and art generators, are significantly transforming various aspects of American life.

Potomac Legal Group is available to address concerns you may have about AI and its use. We are closely following the changes in AI and regulation. 

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