Feb 6, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Fake Biden robocall traced to companies in Texas, New Hampshire AG says

joe biden

President Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 6. Photo: Annabelle Gordon/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The New Hampshire attorney general said Tuesday fake robocalls that used President Biden's voice to discourage voting in last month's state primary have been traced to companies in Texas.

Why it matters: The incident marked the most prominent use of generative AI during the 2024 president election campaign so far.

  • There's growing concern that AI could be used to amplify efforts to suppress votes, libel candidates and incite violence during elections in the U.S. and abroad.

Driving the news: Ahead of New Hampshire's primary, which Biden won, an AI-generated voice purporting to be the president said in robocalls that votes would be better spent in November and that a primary vote helped Trump.

  • The N.H. attorney general's office named the sources of the calls in a statement as the Texas-based Life Corporation and an individual named Walter Monk, who was identified as running the company.
  • "The tracebacks further identified the originating voice service provider for many of these calls to be Texas-based Lingo Telecom," the statement added. "After Lingo Telecom was informed that these calls were being investigated, Lingo Telecom suspended services to Life Corporation."

What's happening: The Federal Communications Commission joined the state's Election Law Unit on Tuesday in sending a cease-and-desist letter to Life Corp.

  • The FCC also sent a cease-and-desist letter to Lingo Telecom, which is "alleged to have originated robocall traffic using AI-generated voice cloning to spread misinformation to voters prior to New Hampshire's primary election," per a statement from the commission.

Separately, over 50 attorneys general from both political parties wrote to Life Corp and its owner and executives on Tuesday as part of the nationwide Anti-Robocall Multistate Litigation Task Force, warning them to immediately cease any unlawful call traffic or risk being found in violation of consumer protection laws.

Of note: A spokesperson for Lingo Telecom told Politico the company "acted immediately" after being alerted to the issue and conducted an investigation into the calls to assist the task force.

  • "On the same day we were contacted by the Task Force, we quickly identified and suspended the involved account, and will continue to cooperate with federal and state investigators to bring a resolution to this matter," the statement added.
  • "Lingo remains committed to upholding the highest standards of customer care in compliance with all its regulatory obligations."

What they're saying: "Ensuring public confidence in the electoral process is vital," New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said in a statement.

  • "AI-generated recordings used to deceive voters have the potential to have devastating effects on the democratic election process," Formella said.
  • FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement that consumers "deserve to know that the person on the other end of the line is exactly who they claim to be."
  • She added: "That's why we're working closely with State Attorneys General across the country to combat the use of voice cloning technology in robocalls being used to misinform voters and target unwitting victims of fraud."
  • Life Corp couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Go deeper: Welcome to the generative AI election era

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