FCC bans robocalls from AI-generated voices that are evolving and could be used by ‘bad actors’

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has banned the use of artificial intelligence (AI)-generated voices for those annoying marketing “robocalls” that blow up your phone with spam.

On Feb. 8, the FCC announced the “unanimous adoption of a Declaratory Ruling that recognizes calls made with AI-generated voices are ‘artificial’ under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).”

“The ruling, which takes effect immediately, makes voice cloning technology used in common robocall scams targeting consumers illegal,” the agency said. “This would give State Attorneys General across the country new tools to go after bad actors behind these nefarious robocalls.”

“Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to extort vulnerable family members, imitate celebrities, and misinform voters,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “We’re putting the fraudsters behind these robocalls on notice. State Attorneys General will now have new tools to crack down on these scams and ensure the public is protected from fraud and misinformation.”

AI-generated automated calls pose a unique risk to consumers, the FCC stated in its decision, according to Fox News Digital.

“Although voice cloning and other uses of AI on calls are still evolving, we have already seen their use in ways that can uniquely harm consumers and those whose voice is cloned,” the agency wrote in its decision. “Voice cloning can convince a called party that a trusted person, or someone they care about such as a family member, wants or needs them to take some action that they would not otherwise take. Requiring consent for such calls arms consumers with the right not to receive such calls or, if they do, the knowledge that they should be cautious about them.”

In its press release, the FAA noted that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act “is the primary law the FCC uses to help limit junk calls. It restricts the making of telemarketing calls and the use of automatic telephone dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded voice messages.”

“Under FCC rules, it also requires telemarketers to obtain prior express written consent from consumers before robocalling them,” the agency explained. “This Declaratory Ruling ensures AI-generated voices in calls are also held to those same standards.”

Following findings from a Nov. 2023 inquiry into the impact of AI voices on automated calls, the FCC decided to ban the practice entirely.

The FCC “addressed AI scams that have increased in prevalence over the past few months,” Fox News Digital reports. “Now-famous incidents include deep fake videos of celebrities such as Gordon Ramsay, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Garner and Selena Gomez selling Le Creuset and other cookware from counterfeit websites.”

Cloned voices are often used to “spread misinformation, endorse products or steal money and personal information,” the FCC warned, citing the now-familiar scam in which the cloned voice of a grandchild in need is used to trick unsuspecting grandparents into sending money.

Giving consumers the right to revoke companies’ permission to contact them with robocalls or robotexts adds “another layer of protection that makes it easier to go after companies or individuals that use AI-generated calls without prior consent or disregard when consumers opt-out,” Fox reports.

“The TCPA gives the FCC civil enforcement authority to fine robocallers,” the FCC said in its press release. “The Commission can also take steps to block calls from telephone carriers facilitating illegal robocalls.”

“In addition, the TCPA allows individual consumers or an organization to bring a lawsuit against robocallers in court,” the agency wrote. “Lastly, State Attorneys General have their own enforcement tools which may be tied to robocall definitions under the TCPA.”

Melissa Fine

Comment

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. If a comment is spam, instead of replying to it please click the ∨ icon below and to the right of that comment. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.

Latest Articles