MN House Passes HF1370, a bill that would make it a crime to disseminate some deep fake photos

By: Cirien Saadeh

During a March 30 House Floor session, the Minnesota House passed House File 1370, which would make it a crime to knowingly and intentionally share deep fake images of someone naked or engaged in a sexual act, as well as those used to influence election outcomes.

Deep fake technology is fake images, video, and audio, created via artificial intelligence, often used to manipulate those who see the image. 

As part of his bill introduction, Rep. Stephenson shared that his opening remarks were written by ChatGPT. 

“These technologies make it possible to create highly realistic yet completely false depictions of people doing and saying things that never actually happened,”  said Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL – District 35A), the bill’s chief author via ChatGPT. “This has serious implications for privacy, free speech, and the integrity of our elections.” 

Rep. Stephenson said in his bill introduction on the House Floor that deep fakes can be used to create non-consensual images of individuals engaging in sexual acts, as a form of “revenge porn.” 

“This is a serious violation of privacy and can cause significant harm to the individuals portrayed in the content,” said Rep. Stephenson, again via ChatGPT. “In many cases the victim is unaware that the content exists and they only discover it after it has been widely shared online.” 

Rep. Stephenson also said that deep fakes can be used to manipulate election outcomes. 

“With the increasing sophistication of these technologies, it is becoming easier to create convincing fake news or propaganda that is designed to manipulate public opinion,” said Rep. Stephenson quoting the ChatGPT language written for him. “This could potentially have significant impact on the outcome of elections undermining the integrity of our democratic process.” 

House File 1370 would regulate deep fake images as related to revenge porn, and other non-consensual deep fake images of images engaged in sexual acts or nudity,  as well as those related to elections. 

Rep. Stephenson shared that his legislative assistant used a one-sentence prompt for the ChatGPT in order to create the language. 

“This is an illustration to the body of how far artificial intelligence is coming. That my remarks today were written and prepared for you by artificial intelligence,” said Rep. Stephenson. 

Rep. Anne Neu Brindley (GOP – District 28B) offered an amendment to the bill and noted that she supported the bill calling the bill “really good and really important.” 

“I think everyone in this chamber is on-board and understands that in this changing world of technology we’re seeing really crazy, really scary stuff,” said Rep. Neu Brindley. “I do have some concerns when it comes to the election section.”

Rep. Neu Brindley said her concerns stemmed from, not from the video or audio language in the bill, but from language related to print material. Rep. Neu Brindley’s amendment define print material as  “electronic images or photographs produced using photo editing software.” 

“It is certainly not because I want to open the floodgates and be able to do whatever we want in print materials,” said Rep. Neu Brindley. “However I think there’s a lot more gray area. And when it comes to electioneering we’ve got some bright lines when it comes to electioneering that make it very clear that you are on one side or the other of that line in electioneering.”

Rep. Neu Brindley said that the definition of deep fake technology refers to “speech or conduct,” which she said might be difficult to infer in a photo. 

“I think everyone in this chamber can foresee situations, frankly in the very near future, where this law is going to become incredibly important to protect Minnesotans and I support that 100%,” said Rep. Neu Brindley. “When it comes to print we have to look at this a little bit differently.”

Rep. Stephenson asked House members to vote no on the Neu Brindley amendment. 

“I do think that Rep. Neu Brindley raises some important questions. I think that the bill, from my perspective, does have a clear standard because what it says is that ‘it appears to authentically depict someone engaging in speech or conduct that they did not, in fact, engage in. And I do think that is a clear standard that can be referenced.” 

Rep. Stephenson went on to say that his concern with the amendment comes from the harm that deep fake images could do “without any opportunity for redress.” 

Rep. Harry Niska (GOP – District 31A) spoke up in response to Rep. Stephenson’s comments. 

“I agree with Rep. Neu Brindley that this is a really good bill,” said Rep. Niska. “This is an important bill. It’s almost there but it’s not quite there.” 

Rep. Niska said he believed the Neu Brindley amendment was “an important step in the right direction.” 

“We as a state should never be trying to chill legitimate political speech which sometimes can be catchy and provocative, and we as a state do not get to say what is and what is not legitimate,” said Rep. Niska who also said he had 1st Amendment concerns. 

“We need to draw very bright lines. First of all, because we need to create certainty for the people who are engaging in the speech,” said Rep. Niska. “The second thing we need to be really concerned about is the ability of either litigation or criminal prosecution to be used as an election tool.” 

The Neu Brindley amendment failed and was not adopted. 

The Neu Brindley amendment was the only amendment offered to the bill. Following the motion on the amendment, member discussion began. 

Rep. Paul Torkelson (GOP – District 15B) spoke first, for a point of order. When asked what his Point of Order was, he shared that he wasn’t sure. 

“I’ve been scouring the rules, trying to figure out if there’s a rule against reading a ChatGPT speech on the Minnesota Floor,” said Torkelson, to some laughs from other members.

The Speaker, Jamie Long (DFL – District 61B), said that Torkelson was actually asking for a “point of parliamentary inquiry,” and that wasn’t a rule against using ChatGPT speech on the Minnesota House Floor. 

More laughs, and some applause broke out, as Rep. Torkelson congratulated Rep. Stephenson on “his best speech of the year,” referring to the ChatGPT speech shared in the bill’s introduction. 

Rep. Walter Hudson (GOP – District 30A) stood up to “praise” the bill. 

“This is an example of proactive legislation and very often, what we do not just in this Chamber but in legislative chambers across the country, is react to problems, and we’re at a point in our history when technological developments are increasing at an every more rapid pace and this is the type of thinking we need to be able to do and willing to do,” said Hudson. 

Following Hudson’s comments, the bill author Rep. Stephenson spoke again simply asking for a yes vote – and thanking Rep. Torkelson for his “kind, kind words,” about his earlier ChatGPT-written speech.

The bill passed 127-0. 

There is a corresponding bill in the Senate. Senate File 1394, authored by Senator Erin May Quade (DFL – District 56) has gone through several committees. 

Attend an Event