AI-powered robocalls banned ahead of US election

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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has introduced a ban on robocalls containing AI-generated voices to protect US voters from spam ahead of the November presidential election.

Callers must obtain prior express consent from the called party before placing a call using an artificial or prerecorded voice simulated or generated by AI technology, the FCC said in a Feb. 8 statement.

The ban will be in addition to measures included in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), passed in 1991 to restrict telemarketing and the use of automated telephone equipment.

The decision takes effect immediately. The FCC will now be able to penalize companies that use AI-generated voices on a call without prior consent, with fines of up to $23,000 per call.

Beyond FCC penalties, the ban allows individuals to sue infringers directly, potentially recovering up to $1,500 in damages for each unwanted call.

New Hampshire investigating AI robocall impersonating Biden

Jessica Rosenworcel, Chairman of the FCC, said in the statement that bad actors are using AI-generated voices in robocalls to misinform voters, pose as celebrities, and extort family members.

“We’re already seeing this happening with Tom Hanks selling dental plans online, a vile video featuring Taylor Swift, and calls from candidates for political office designed to confuse us about where and when to vote.

According to the latest report from voice security company Hiya Global Phone Threat ReportThe last quarter of 2023 recorded 7.3 billion suspected spam calls worldwide, which represents 81.1 million unwanted calls per day.

Talk to Information securityKush Parikh, president of Hiya, welcomed the FCC’s decision.

He commented: “Phone fraud and spam is a growing global problem from which no phone user is immune. Everyone in the telecommunications community, from operators to providers, must work together to increase consumer confidence that the phone is secure and trustworthy. Failure to achieve this goal would result in the destruction of the world’s oldest communications tool.”

The announcement comes a month after an AI-generated robocall campaign imitated President Joe Biden’s voice to discourage people from voting in New Hampshire’s primary.

New Hampshire authorities are still investigating the case.

Read more: Meta to introduce labeling of AI-generated images ahead of US elections

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