The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday banned unsolicited robocalls generated by artificial intelligence amid growing concerns about voter disinformation and consumer fraud facilitated by the technology.
The FCC’s unanimous decision cited a three-decade-old law aimed at curbing spam calls, clarifying that spam calls generated by artificial intelligence are also illegal. In doing so, the agency said it expanded the ability of states to prosecute the creators of unsolicited spam bots.
“It seems like something from the distant future, but it’s already here,” FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to extort vulnerable family members, impersonate celebrities and misinform voters.”
Concerns about the use of artificial intelligence to reproduce the voices and images of politicians and celebrities have grown in recent months as facial reconstruction technology has taken off – particularly in the run-up to the US presidential election in November.
Those concerns came to a head late last month when thousands of voters received an unsolicited call from a fake voice of President Biden instructing voters to abstain from voting in the first primary of the election season. The state attorney general’s office announced this week that it has opened a criminal investigation into a Texas-based company it believes is behind the robocall. The caller ID was falsified to make it appear that the calls were coming from the former New Hampshire Democratic Party chairwoman.
AI has also been used to create fake videos and ads that mimic the voices and images of celebrities and politicians. This includes fake and unsanctioned videos of actor Tom Hanks promoting dental plans and a sexually explicit video of singer Taylor Swift.
Lawmakers have called for legislation to ban fake AI in political ads, but no bill has gained traction in Congress. In the absence of federal legislation, more than a dozen states have passed laws restricting the use of artificial intelligence in political ads.