FCC targets AI-generated robocalls after Biden primary deepfake

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is targeting artificial intelligence (AI) generated robocalls after a digitally altered message created to sound like President Biden urged New Hampshire residents not to vote in last month’s primary.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel proposed Wednesday that AI-generated voices be recognized as artificial voices under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in order to make AI-generated robocalls illegal.

“AI-generated voice cloning and images are already sowing confusion by tricking consumers into thinking scams and frauds are legitimate,” Rosenworcel said in a statement. “No matter what celebrity or politician you favor, or what your relationship is with your kin when they call for help, it is possible we could all be a target of these faked calls.”

“That’s why the FCC is taking steps to recognize this emerging technology as illegal under existing law, giving our partners at State Attorneys General offices across the country new tools they can use to crack down on these scams and protect consumers,” she added.

The fake Biden robocall that went out to New Hampshire residents last month urged them to save their vote for November’s election and not cast their ballot in the primary contest. 

While Biden was not on the ballot in New Hampshire, Democrats in the state had organized a write-in campaign to support the president. Biden ultimately won the Granite State with about 64 percent of the vote, while long-shot Democratic challenger Rep. Dean Phillips (Minn.) secured about 20 percent.

The robocall stoked fears about the role AI can play in fueling election misinformation.

The organizers of Biden’s write-in campaign slammed the robocall as “deep fake disinformation designed to harm Joe Biden, suppress votes, and damage our democracy,” and one Democratic lawmaker called on the Justice Department to investigate the incident.

Phillips also denounced the robocall and suggested that it highlighted the need for AI regulation.