The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has officially made it illegal to use artificial intelligence-generated voices in robocalls after vowing last week to take action after a fake voice that sounded like President Biden was used in calls to voters ahead of the New Hampshire primary election.
The federal agency on Thursday announced it had voted unanimously to officially recognize AI-generated voices as “artificial” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which now criminalizes the use of voice-cloning technology in calls to consumers.
“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 statement announcing the move. “State Attorneys General will now have new tools to crack down on these scams and ensure the public is protected from fraud and misinformation.”
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The FCC said last week the attorneys general of 26 states were already on board with the proposal to criminalize AI robocalls under the TCPA — which it first floated in November — noting the agency has a memorandum of understanding with 48 states to work together to combat robocalls.
The agency’s move comes as the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office is investigating the source of a robocall that went out to residents of the state last month. The call used a fake voice of Biden urging voters there not to participate in the presidential primary and instead “save” their votes for the November general election.
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Years ago, spoof calls and spam calls were typically generated based on a combination of statistical methods and audio dubbing and clipping. Since public figures, such as President Biden, are on record with a voice saying many words known to the public, the use of powerful new AI tools can produce audio that is difficult to differentiate from authentic recordings.
“The rise of these types of calls has escalated during the last few years as this technology now has the potential to confuse consumers with misinformation by imitating the voices of celebrities, political candidates, and close family members,” the FCC said in a news release.
While federal laws were already on the books to prosecute people for attempts to limit people’s ability to vote or sway their voting decisions, this regulation now bans deceptively using AI for that purpose or any other through robocalls.
Fox News Digital’s Greg Norman and Nikolas Lanum contributed to this report.
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