On April 2, the California Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Safe and Secure Innovation for Frontier Artificial Intelligence Models Act (SB 1047) and favorably reported the bill in a 9-0 vote (with 2 members not voting).  The vote marks a major step toward comprehensive artificial intelligence (AI) regulation in a state that is home to both Silicon Valley and the nation’s first comprehensive privacy law.

This legislation would require developers of large AI models to implement certain safeguards before training and deploying those models, and to report safety incidents involving AI technologies.  The bill would give the California Attorney General civil enforcement authority over violations and establish a new “Frontier Model Division” within the Department of Technology to aid enforcement. 

At the hearing, witnesses—including Encode Justice, the Center for AI Safety, and Economic Security California—and legislators praised the bill’s goal of regulating large AI models while also expressing concerns about the feasibility of enforcement and potential effects on AI innovation.  The Chamber of Progress and California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) testified in opposition to the bill.  A coalition of advocacy and industry groups, led by CalChamber, has also signed a letter opposing the bill.

Covered Models.  Mirroring the White House’s 2023 Executive Order, SB 1047 would regulate developers of “covered models” trained on computers with processing power above certain thresholds, while also covering models of “similar or greater performance.”  Developers would also be prohibited from training or deploying a covered model that presents an unreasonable risk of “critical harm,” such as the creation or use of weapons of mass destruction, cybersecurity attacks causing catastrophic damages (greater than $500 million), activities undertaken by AI that cause mass casualties or catastrophic damages (greater than $500 million) and that would be criminal conduct if committed by humans, or other severe threats to public safety.

AI Developer Pre-Training Requirements.  SB 1047 would establish a set of requirements for developers of covered models that apply before a covered model is trained, including:  

  • Positive Safety Determinations.  Developers would be required to assess whether a model will have lower performance than covered models and lacks “hazardous capabilities.”  Models with such determinations are exempt from the bill’s requirements.
  • Protections & Safeguards.  Developers would be required to implement cybersecurity protections against misuse, ensure models can be fully shutdown, and follow industry best practices and NIST and Frontier Model Division guidance.
  • Safety & Security Protocols.  Developers would be required to implement, for each covered model, a “safety and security protocol” with assurances of safeguards, the requirements that apply to the developer, and procedures to test the model’s safety.

AI Developer Pre-Deployment Requirements.  After training a covered model, SB 1047 would require developers to perform “capability testing” to assess whether a positive safety determination is warranted.  If not, developers would be required to implement safeguards that prevent harmful uses and ensure a model’s actions and “resulting critical harms can be accurately and reliably attributed” to the model and responsible users.

AI Developer Ongoing Requirements.  SB 1047 would also establish ongoing obligations for developers, including annual reviews of safety and security protocols, annual certifications of compliance to the Frontier Model Division, periodic reviews of procedures, policies, and safeguards, and reporting of “AI safety incidents” within 72 hours of learning of the incident.

Whistleblower Protections.  SB 1047 would prohibit developers from preventing employees from disclosing information to the California Attorney General indicating a developer’s noncompliance, or from retaliating against employees who do so. 

SB 1047 has a long way to go before becoming law.  Should it be enacted, however, it could—like California’s comprehensive privacy legislation before it—become the de facto standard for AI regulation in the United States, filling the void created in the absence of comprehensive federal AI legislation.  We are closely monitoring these and related state AI developments as they unfold.  A summary of key themes in recent state AI bills is available here, along with our overview of recent state synthetic media and generative AI legislation here.  We will continue to provide updates on meaningful developments related to artificial intelligence and technology across our Global Policy Watch, Inside Global Tech, and Inside Privacy blogs.

Print:
Email this postTweet this postLike this postShare this post on LinkedIn
Photo of Matthew Shapanka Matthew Shapanka

Matthew Shapanka draws on more than 15 years of experience from Capitol Hill, private practice, state government, and political campaigns to counsel clients significant legislative, regulatory, and enforcement matters. He develops and executes complex, multifaceted public policy initiatives for clients seeking actions by…

Matthew Shapanka draws on more than 15 years of experience from Capitol Hill, private practice, state government, and political campaigns to counsel clients significant legislative, regulatory, and enforcement matters. He develops and executes complex, multifaceted public policy initiatives for clients seeking actions by Congress, state legislatures, and federal and state government agencies, many with significant legal and political opportunities and risks. Matt also leads the firm’s state policy practice, advising clients on complex multistate legislative and regulatory policy matters and managing state advocacy efforts.

Matt rejoined Covington after serving as Chief Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, where he advised Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) on all legal, policy, and oversight matters before the Committee, including federal election and campaign finance law, Federal Election Commission nominations, and oversight of legislative branch agencies, U.S. Capitol security, and Senate rules and regulations. Most significantly, Matt led the Committee’s staff work on the Electoral Count Reform Act – a landmark bipartisan law enacted in 2022 to update the procedures for certifying and counting votes in presidential elections —and the Committee’s joint (with the Homeland Security Committee) bipartisan investigation into the security planning and response to the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.

Both in Congress and at Covington, Matt has prepared dozens of corporate and nonprofit executives, academics, government officials, and presidential nominees for testimony at congressional committee hearings and depositions. He is also an experienced legislative drafter who has composed dozens of bills introduced in Congress and state legislatures, including several that have been enacted into law across multiple policy areas.

In addition to his policy work, Matt advises and represents clients on the full range of political law compliance and enforcement matters involving federal election, campaign finance, lobbying, and government ethics laws, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s “Pay-to-Play” rule, and the election and political laws of states and municipalities across the country.

Before law school, Matt worked in the administration of former Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) as a research analyst in the Massachusetts Recovery & Reinvestment Office, where he worked on policy, communications, and compliance matters for federal economic recovery funding awarded to the state. He has also worked for federal, state, and local political candidates in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

August Gweon

August Gweon counsels national and multinational companies on data privacy, cybersecurity, antitrust, and technology policy issues, including issues related to artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies. August leverages his experiences in AI and technology policy to help clients understand complex technology developments, risks…

August Gweon counsels national and multinational companies on data privacy, cybersecurity, antitrust, and technology policy issues, including issues related to artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies. August leverages his experiences in AI and technology policy to help clients understand complex technology developments, risks, and policy trends.

August regularly provides advice to clients for complying with federal, state, and global privacy and competition frameworks and AI regulations. He also assists clients in investigating compliance issues, preparing for federal and state privacy regulations like the California Privacy Rights Act, responding to government inquiries and investigations, and engaging in public policy discussions and rulemaking processes.

Photo of Holly Fechner Holly Fechner

Holly Fechner advises clients on complex public policy matters that combine legal and political opportunities and risks. She leads teams that represent companies, entities, and organizations in significant policy and regulatory matters before Congress and the Executive Branch.

She is a co-chair of…

Holly Fechner advises clients on complex public policy matters that combine legal and political opportunities and risks. She leads teams that represent companies, entities, and organizations in significant policy and regulatory matters before Congress and the Executive Branch.

She is a co-chair of the Covington’s Technology Industry Group and a member of the Covington Political Action Committee board of directors.

Holly works with clients to:

  • Develop compelling public policy strategies
  • Research law and draft legislation and policy
  • Draft testimony, comments, fact sheets, letters and other documents
  • Advocate before Congress and the Executive Branch
  • Form and manage coalitions
  • Develop communications strategies

She is the Executive Director of Invent Together and a visiting lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She serves on the board of directors of the American Constitution Society.

Holly served as Policy Director for Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Chief Labor and Pensions Counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee.

She received The American Lawyer, “Dealmaker of the Year” award. in 2019. The Hill named her a “Top Lobbyist” from 2013 to the present, and she has been ranked by Chambers USA – America’s Leading Business Lawyers from 2012 to the present.