US regulator makes AI-generated robocalls illegal

The US communications watchdog has made the voice cloning technology used in common “robocall” scams illegal.

While currently State Attorneys Generals can target the outcome of an unwanted AI-voice generated robocall—such as the scam or fraud they are seeking to perpetrate—this action now makes the act of using AI to generate the voice in these robocalls itself illegal.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel warned that criminals 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,” she said. “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 regulator says that the rise of these kind of calls has escalated over the past couple of years, with the technology now able to confuse consumers with misinformation by imitating the voices of celebrities, political candidates, and close family members.

The move comes after the technology was used to fake Joe Biden's voice last month in a robocall that discouraged people in New Hampshire from voting.

Because calls made with AI-generated voices are “artificial” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the law gives the FFC authority to fine robocallers.

The Commission can also take steps to block calls from telephone carriers facilitating illegal robocalls.

Additionally, the TCPA allows individual consumers or an organisation to bring a lawsuit against robocallers in court.

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