FCC Bans AI-Generated Voices in Robocalls to Combat Fraud and Misinformation

February 9, 2024 - Reading time: 2 minutes

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has declared the use of voice-cloning technology in robocalls to be illegal, giving states another tool to go after fraudsters behind these calls.

This ruling takes effect immediately and comes amid an increase in such calls due to technology that offers the ability to confuse people with recordings that mimic the voices of celebrities, political candidates, and even close family members.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel stated, "Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to extort vulnerable family members, imitate celebrities, and misinform votes." She added that state attorneys general will now have new tools to crack down on these scams and ensure the public is protected from fraud and misinformation.

The FCC's action follows an incident ahead of New Hampshire's presidential primary last month in which a phony robocall impersonating President Biden encouraged voters not to cast ballots in the contest. An estimated 5,000 to 25,000 of these calls were made.

New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said that the AI-generated recording made to sound like the president has been linked to two Texas companies, with a criminal probe underway. This fake Biden robocall is only the latest example in an already contentious 2024 campaign cycle where artificial intelligence-produced disinformation targeting voters continues to be a significant issue.

Two U.S. Senators — Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Maine Republican Susan Collins — have recently pressed the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to take steps to combat such disinformation campaigns. The New Hampshire robocall is only one of many instances where AI-generated images, video, and audio are being propagated online in an already contentious 2024 campaign cycle.

Kate Gibson is a reporter for CBS MoneyWatch in New York. Thanks for reading CBS NEWS! Create your free account or log in for more features.

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