Regulators in the United States have officially deemed fraudulent “robocalls” that employ artificially intelligent voices as unlawful.
The phenomenon gained attention last month when a robocall impersonating US President Joe Biden urged people not to vote in the New Hampshire primary.
“Bad actors use AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to blackmail vulnerable family members, impersonate celebrities and misinform voters,” Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.
“State attorneys general now have new tools to combat these scams.”
The FCC unanimously ruled that AI-generated voices are “artificial” and thus violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
The TCPA is the primary law the FCC uses to curb spam calls, limit telemarketing calls, and limit the use of automated dialing systems.
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According to the FCC, the ruling makes it illegal to clone the voice used in robocall scams, allowing those behind such practices to be prosecuted.
Previously, law enforcement officials could prosecute people for the consequences of scams, such as robocall fraud, but not for the calls themselves, regulators said.
The frequency of such calls has exploded in recent years with the help of automated dialing systems, some of which even “game” phone numbers to make them appear local.
A coalition of 26 state attorneys general was among those urging the FCC to limit the use of AI-generated voices in telemarketing calls.
“Technology is evolving and expanding, seemingly by the minute, and we must ensure that these new developments are not used to prey on, deceive or manipulate consumers,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry said of the coalition in a letter to the FCC. January.
“This new technology cannot be used as a loophole to block consumers with illegal calls.”
New Hampshire’s attorney general said Tuesday that Biden’s fake phone call was traced to a Texas company that shares ownership with companies that provide robocalls to politicians.
The official estimated that between 5,000 and 25,000 calls were made using Biden’s impersonated voice.
Experts fear a deep flood of fake disinformation in the 2024 White House race, as well as in this year’s most important elections around the world.
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