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FCC seeks to make AI-generated robocalls illegal

By Mary Kay Mallonee, CNN

(CNN) — The Federal Communications Commission is seeking to make AI-generated robocalls illegal.

The agency’s announcement comes after a recent robocall with an AI voice resembling President Joe Biden targeted thousands of New Hampshire voters and as US officials brace for artificial intelligence to make it easier to spread disinformation in the 2024 election.

The FCC proposes making AI-generated calls illegal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), saying it would make “voice cloning technology used in common robocalls scams targeting consumers illegal.”

“The rise of these types of calls has escalated during the last few years as this technology now has the potential to confuse consumers with misinformation by imitating the voices of celebrities, political candidates, and close family members,” the FCC said in a news release Wednesday. “By taking this step, the FCC will provide new tools to State Attorneys General across the country to go after bad actors behind these nefarious robocalls and hold them accountable under the law.”

The TCPA, enacted in 1991, regulates telemarketing calls and robocalls to help limit junk calls. It has been used in anti-robocall crackdowns, including a case against conservative activists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman for carrying out a voter suppression campaign during the 2020 election.

The campaign by Wohl and Burkman prompted the FCC to fine them $5million, a record-breaking figure at the time.

CNN reported earlier this week that House Democrats are fighting back against AI-generated robocalls with a sweeping proposal to overhaul the nation’s robocall rules.

The number of robocalls placed in the US peaked at around 58.5 billion in 2019, according to estimates by YouMail, a robocall blocking service. Last year, the figure was closer to 55 billion.

The fake robocall that emerged last week imitating Biden and telling voters not to vote in the New Hampshire primary was for some policymakers the opening salvo in an election season poised to be plagued by disinformation.

This story and its headline have been updated.

CNN’s Sean Lyngaas contributed to this report.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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