Policy /

FCC Bans AI-Generated Robocalls

Policy change follows an operation that called New Hampshire voters with a spoofed Biden voice telling them not to vote in the primary

FCC Bans AI-Generated Robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has unanimously adopted a new rule prohibiting robocalls using artificial intelligence-generated voices that clone actual people.

State attorneys general now have new tools to prosecute violators, as the new rule takes effect immediately.

The FCC says there has been a rise in these types of calls, which is resulting in consumers being duped by voices resembling celebrities, political candidates, and close family members.

“Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to extort vulnerable family members, imitate celebrities, and misinform voters. We’re putting the fraudsters behind these robocalls on notice,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release announcing the rule change. “State Attorneys General will now have new tools to crack down on these scams and ensure the public is protected from fraud and misinformation.”

The ruling comes only weeks after a disinformation campaign in New Hampshire used an AI-generated voice sounding like President Joe Biden to call potential voters and discourage them from voting in the state’s primary election.

According to a statement from the New Hampshire Attorney General, the calls were spoofed to falsely show they were coming from the treasurer of a Democratic political committee.

“Although the voice in the robocall sounds like the voice of President Biden, this message appears to be artificially generated based on initial indications,” the AG’s office said.

“These messages appear to be an unlawful attempt to disrupt the New Hampshire Presidential Primary Election and to suppress New Hampshire voters,” the statement added.

Following an investigation, the calls were traced to companies in Texas.

“After identifying specific calls, the Election Law Unit requested ‘tracebacks’ via an entity known as Industry Traceback Group. These tracebacks identified the source of the calls to be Life Corporation and Walter Monk,” the AG’s office said this week. “The tracebacks further identified the originating voice service provider for many of these calls to be Texas-based Lingo Telecom. After Lingo Telecom was informed that these calls were being investigated, Lingo Telecom suspended services to Life Corporation.”

The state’s Election Law Unit has issued a cease-and-desist order to Live Corporation and is working with the FCC’s enforcement bureau.

In a statement to POLITICO, Lingo Telecom said it acted quickly after being notified of the incident.

“Upon receiving an inquiry on this matter, Lingo acted immediately by conducting an investigation into the calls at issue in order to aid in the Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force’s efforts,” Lingo said. “On the same day we were contacted by the Task Force, we quickly identified and suspended the involved account, and will continue to cooperate with federal and state investigators to bring a resolution to this matter. Lingo remains committed to upholding the highest standards of customer care in compliance with all its regulatory obligations.”

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