FCC bans AI-generated ‘deepfake’ robocalls

The Federal Communications Commission has announced an immediate ban on fake robocalls generated by AI. The move is aimed at sending a clear message that the technology cannot be misused to deceive or mislead voters ahead of November’s crucial presidential election.

The unanimous ruling by the FCC is based on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a 1991 law that restricts unsolicited phone calls that use artificial or prerecorded voice messages. The target is robocalls using “.”

“Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to blackmail vulnerable families and imitate celebrities,” FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “or giving false information to voters.”

“We are issuing a warning to the scammers behind these robocalls.”

The move comes after authorities earlier this week ordered two Texas companies allegedly involved in robocalls that used AI to mimic President Biden’s voice to deter people from voting in last month’s New Hampshire primary. This was done in response to a warning.

The FCC will now have the power to fine companies that use AI voices for phone calls. The agency will also have the power to block service providers that handle them.

The Federal Communications Commission has banned AI-generated “deepfake” robocalls. shutter stock

People who receive robocalls can also sue the companies behind them.

Under consumer protection law, telemarketers generally cannot call cell phones using automatic dialers or artificial or prerecorded voice messages, and they cannot call cell phones without the call recipient’s prior written consent. Such calls cannot be made to landlines without consent.

According to the FCC, the new ruling classifies AI-generated voices in robocalls as “artificial,” making them enforceable under the same standards.

According to the FCC, those who violate the law can be subject to steep fines of up to $23,000 or more per call.

“We are warning the scammers behind the robocalls,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. AP

The agency has previously used consumer law to crack down on robocallers who interfere in elections, including arrests, debt collections and coercion to prevent people from voting by mail in majority-black communities. It also fined two people who made false rumors about conservatives $5 million for falsely warning that they could increase the risk of terrorism. vaccination.

The law also gives recipients of the calls the right to take legal action and seek damages of up to $1,500 for each unwanted call.

As the presidential election began last year, some campaign ads used AI-generated audio and images, and some candidates experimented with using AI chatbots to communicate with voters.

A bipartisan effort in Congress has sought to regulate AI in political activities, but no federal legislation has passed even though the general election is nine months away.

An AI-generated robocall that attempted to influence the New Hampshire primary on January 23rd used a voice similar to Biden’s, used the phrase Biden often uses, “What a disaster,” and called the primary election falsely suggested that voting in the United States would prevent voters from voting. Voting in November.

New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella announced Tuesday that investigators have identified Texas-based Life Inc. and its owner Walter Monk as the originators of the calls. The callers were thousands of state residents, most of them registered Democrats. He said the calls were sent by another Texas-based company, Ringo Telecom.

New Hampshire issued cease-and-desist orders and subpoenas to both companies, Formella said, and the FCC issued cease-and-desist letters to the carriers.

A task force made up of attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., sent a letter to Life Corporation warning it to immediately stop making illegal calls.

Both Lingo Telecom and Life Corp. have been investigated in the past for suspected illegal robocalling, according to the FCC.

In 2003, the FCC issued a citation to Life Corp. for distributing illegal prerecorded unsolicited advertisements to residential lines.

Americans are inundated with billions of robocalls every month. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Most recently, the Attorney General’s Special Committee charged Lingo with being the gateway provider for 61 suspected illegal calls from overseas.

The Federal Trade Commission issued a cease-and-desist order against Matrix Telecom, Lingo’s former name, in 2022. The following year, the task force required the company to take steps to protect its network.

Ringo Telecom said in a statement Tuesday that it “acted immediately” to assist in the investigation of robocalls impersonating Biden, and that it quickly identified and stopped Life Corporation when contacted by the task force. Ta. A Life Corporation sales representative declined to comment Thursday.

Earlier this week, YouMail, a free robocall blocking app and call protection service for mobile phones, released data showing that approximately 4.3 billion robocalls were made in January. This was an increase of 13% compared to the previous month, but a decrease of 5.2% compared to the previous month. There were 4.5 billion robocalls made in January last year.

with post wire