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Lawmakers seek guardrails around digitally-altered images, video or audio of election candidates

Julie Olthoff speaks into a microphone on the House floor. Olthoff is a White woman with blonde hair, wearing glasses and a gray sportcoat.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Rep. Julie Olthoff (R-Crown Point) said people deserve to know whether what they see in campaign material is "truth or fiction."

Indiana lawmakers want to address images, video and audio of election candidates that are digitally altered or faked.

HB 1133 says any image, video or audio of a candidate that’s altered or faked without their consent and is hard to tell has been altered or faked could not be used in a campaign unless it includes a disclaimer that says it has been altered or artificially generated.

Rep. Julie Olthoff (R-Crown Point) is the measure’s author.

“People have the right to know whether what they are seeing, hearing or reading is the truth or fiction,” Olthoff said.

READ MORE: 2024 Indiana legislative session bill tracker

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Under the bill, if the disclaimer isn’t included, the candidate depicted in that campaign material can sue whoever paid for or sponsored the campaign material.

The House Elections and Apportionment Committee unanimously approved the measure Wednesday. Rep. Tanya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute) did note that she’d like to see the bill expanded to cover digitally-altered media of elected officials at all times, not just during elections.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.