The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Thursday that calls using AI-generated voices are deemed illegal. This decision comes after a fraudulent robocall featuring an AI-generated voice imitating President Joe Biden attempted to discourage people from voting for him in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary election.
The declaratory ruling provides state attorneys general with additional tools to pursue the entities responsible for the robocalls, stated FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel.
Rosenworcel said, “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.”
The FCC highlighted that previously, state attorneys general could focus on the consequences of undesired AI-generated voice robocalls. However, the recent action deems the act of employing AI to produce a voice in such robocalls as inherently illegal.
Earlier this week, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said the fake Biden robocall has been traced back to Texas-based Life Corp. He said a cease-and-desist letter has been sent to the company, run by Walter Monk, and a criminal investigation is under way.
Democratic FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said “The use of generative AI has brought a fresh threat to voter suppression schemes and the campaign season with the heightened believability of fake robocalls.”
“Voice cloning,” the FCC said, “can convince a called party that a trusted person, or someone they care about such as a family member, wants or needs them to take some action that they would not otherwise take.”
In 2023, the FCC concluded the imposition of a $5.1 million fine on conservative activists for orchestrating over 1,100 illegal robocalls leading up to the 2020 U.S. election.
The calls sought to discourage voting by telling potential voters that if they voted by mail, their “personal information will be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts.”