Feb 8, 2024 - Technology

FCC outlaws AI voices in robocall fraud

Scissors cut the cord on an AI phone

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Federal Communications Commission has declared the use of AI-generated voices in scam robocalls illegal, with immediate effect.

Why it matters: Generative AI ismaking voice scams easier to believe and unsolicited robocalls have been used to "extort vulnerable family members, imitate celebrities, and misinform voters," per the FCC.

Details: In a unanimous ruling, the FCC declared that calls made with AI-generated voices are "artificial" under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

  • While using AI to perpetrate a scam or fraud was already illegal, now using AI to generate voices in such calls is itself illegal.
  • A bipartisan coalition of 26 state attorneys general wrote to the FCC supporting the change.

The big picture: President Joe Biden was the victim of an AI-generated fake robocall in January — the first of what experts expect to be a flood of 2024 election scams.

By the numbers: Americans are subject to more than 4 billion robocalls per month, according to an index maintained by YouMail.

What's next: State Attorneys General now have additional ways to crack down on bad actors, and "ensure the public is protected from fraud and misinformation," the FCC said in a statement.

What they're saying: "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," said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

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