In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission declared the use of AI-generated voices in robocalls illegal, a crack down that comes just weeks after an AI voice impersonating President Biden placed robocalls in New Hampshire spreading disinfo about voting laws in the state.
The fake Biden voice encouraged recipients to “save your vote” for November, implying falsely that people can only vote once in an election year.
In the unanimous ruling Thursday the FCC officially categorized AI-generated voices as “artificial” under the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The FCC had already declared it illegal to use AI to place spam calls, but Thursday’s decision makes clear that using AI to create or replicate real human voices as part of those scam calls is illegal as well.
The move was supported by more than two dozen state attorneys general, Republican and Democratic. The FCC decision will give them more tools to go after robocallers who use AI voices to trick those on the other end, as is allegedly the situation in New Hampshire. Attorney General John Formella announced earlier this week he’d opened a criminal investigation into the group he says is behind the robocalls. My colleague Josh Marshall dug into the Texas-based firm, Life Corporation, which Formella believes was behind the calls, more here.
As part of the Thursday decision, the FCC declared that any groups trying to do robocalls “must obtain prior express consent from the called party before making a call that utilizes artificial or prerecorded voice simulated or generated through AI technology.”
“Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to extort vulnerable family members, imitate celebrities, and misinform voters,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement. “We’re putting the fraudsters behind these robocalls on notice.”
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