The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the regulatory body overseeing communication in the United States, has announced a ban on robocalls using AI-generated voices. This decision was announced on Thursday and will be implemented immediately.
Deepfakes employ AI to manipulate video or audio to mimic someone’s appearance or voice, This has sparked widespread concern globally, particularly during pivotal electoral periods such as those in the US, UK, and India.
Recent events, including robocalls impersonating US President Joe Biden during New Hampshire’s presidential primary, show how important it is to address this issue. An estimated 5,000 to 25,000 such calls were placed, prompting a criminal investigation linking them to companies in Texas.
The FCC’s action empowers state authorities to prosecute individuals or entities responsible for these illicit calls. This move follows an uptick in robocalls impersonating celebrities and political figures to extort vulnerable people or spread misinformation.
In a statement, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said: “Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to extort vulnerable family members, imitate celebrities, and misinform voters.”
Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry, who led the effort, added: “Technology is advancing and expanding, seemingly by the minute, and we must ensure these new developments are not used to prey upon, deceive, or manipulate consumers.”
The FCC also highlighted the potential for these calls to mislead consumers by impersonating public figures or loved ones, noting that while state attorneys general can pursue legal action against perpetrators for fraud-related offenses, this ruling expressly prohibits using AI-generated voices in robocalls.
The decision to outlaw such practices follows a collaborative effort by attorneys general from 26 states, who urged the FCC to address the misuse of AI in marketing calls.
This regulatory action aligns with the FCC’s earlier call for public input on using AI in consumer communications, signaling a proactive approach to safeguarding against emerging threats.