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Georgia lawmakers could address foreign land ownership, AI

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(The Center Square) — Georgia lawmakers could soon consider measures addressing two hot-button issues: Artificial intelligence and land ownership by “foreign adversaries” near military bases.

State Reps. Brad Thomas, R-Holly Springs, and Todd Jones, R-South Forsyth, introduced House Bill 986, the “AI Transparency and Protection Act,” and House Bill 988.

HB 986 would make it a felony and punishable by up to five years in prison to use AI to interfere in an election, such as by creating a “deep fake” photo, image or video. HB 988 would require the Georgia Technology Authority to audit state agencies’ use of artificial intelligence and file a report by the end of the year.

“Artificial intelligence continues to be a growing concern for many Georgians, and in the world of AI, transparency and protection are crucial,” Thomas said in an announcement. “The AI Transparency and Protection Act sets the standard by making election interference with deep fakes a felony. Legislation of this kind is imperative to secure our digital space, guarantee trust and safeguard the integrity of our democratic process.”

The ACLU of Georgia opposed a state Senate version of the election interference bill, Senate Bill 392, in part citing the First Amendment and concerns about censorship.

“ACLU of Georgia shares the committee’s concerns about disinformation and election interference, and First Amendment protections should be factored into state regulations on this matter,” ACLU-GA First Amendment Policy Advocate Sarah Hunt-Blackwell said in a statement.

“Navigating this delicate balance is critical. We’ve seen legislation similar to SB 392 in other states, most notably Minnesota and California,” Hunt-Blackwell added. “Those states addressed the same election interference concerns and drafted the bills to include necessary First Amendment carve outs and avoid over criminalization.”

Meanwhile, state Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, introduced Senate Bill 420. It would ban foreign adversaries from procuring agricultural land or land within 25 miles of a military installation through lease, purchase or “any possessory interest.”

“Georgia’s military installations are currently vulnerable to foreign adversaries, a crisis that could be exacerbated by a single bad actor at any moment,” Anavitarte said in a statement. “This Bill, its regulations and penalties aims to prevent that scenario by limiting the exposure experienced by Georgia’s agricultural land and these military installations.”

Roughly three dozen other lawmakers have signed on as sponsors of SB420.