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FCC Outlaws AI-Generated Robocalls in US Following Surge of Fraudulent Voice Messages

AI-generated voices utilised in unwarranted or automated robocalls have now been officially deemed illegal in the United States following a recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In a statement dated February 8, the agency declared, “Today the Federal Communications Commission announced the unanimous adoption of a Declaratory Ruling that recognises calls made with AI-generated voices are ‘artificial’ under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).”

“This would give State Attorneys General across the country new tools to go after bad actors behind these nefarious robocalls.”

The FCC’s prohibition comes shortly after residents of New Hampshire received fraudulent voice messages mimicking U.S. President Joe Biden, advising them against participating in the state’s primary election.

Robocall scams are already prohibited under the TCPA — a U.S. law overseeing telemarketing.

The recent ruling will also criminalise the use of “voice cloning technology” employed in these scams. The regulation will take immediate effect, stated the FCC.

“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,” stated FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel.

The FCC initially suggested the prohibition of AI robocalls under the TCPA on January 31, which is a 1991 law regulating automated political and marketing calls made without the recipient’s consent.

The TCPA’s primary objective is to shield consumers from unwanted and intrusive communications or “junk calls” and to limit telemarketing calls, the use of automatic telephone dialling systems, and artificial or pre-recorded voice messages.

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FCC regulations also mandate telemarketers to acquire written consent from consumers before initiating robocalls. The ruling will now ensure that AI-generated voices in calls are also held to the same standards, London Insider reported.

The FCC highlighted in its recent statement that AI-supported calls have surged in recent years and cautioned that the technology now has the potential to befuddle consumers with misinformation by replicating the voices of celebrities, political figures, and close family members.

Furthermore, while law enforcement has been able to address the repercussions of an unwanted AI-voice-generated robocall — such as the scam or fraud they aim to perpetrate, the new ruling will empower law enforcement to pursue scammers solely for using AI to generate the voice in robocalls.

Meanwhile, the alleged perpetrator behind the Biden robocalls in mid-January has been traced back to a Texas-based firm named Life Corporation and an individual named Walter Monk.

The Election Law Unit issued a cease-and-desist order to Life Corporation for contravening the 2022 New Hampshire Revised Statutes Title LXIII on bribes, intimidation, and suppression.

The order necessitates immediate compliance, and the unit reserves the right to take further enforcement actions based on prior conduct.

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