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FCC cracks down on AI-generated robocalls to protect consumers

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has unanimously voted to make artificial intelligence (AI)-generated voice robocalls illegal, targeting a recent increase in fraudulent calls that exploit AI technology to mimic real individuals, including a notable incident using President Joe Biden’s voice for voter suppression. The FCC’s action categorizes these AI-generated calls as “artificial” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, empowering state attorneys general with new tools to combat such scams and misinformation.

The ban arises amid concerns over AI’s potential to deceive consumers by impersonating celebrities, political figures, or even family members, leading to extortion and misinformation. The FCC’s decision expands legal measures against the creators of these robocalls, responding to incidents like the fake Biden robocall in New Hampshire, which is under investigation by the state’s Attorney General’s Office as voter suppression. The crackdown has been welcomed by consumer advocates, although some believe further regulatory actions are necessary.

Despite the FCC’s stringent new rules, certain AI-generated calls to landlines will remain permissible under specific conditions, primarily for non-emergency, non-commercial purposes. However, the move has sparked a broader conversation on the need for Congressional action to regulate AI-generated content more comprehensively, including in political advertising, to safeguard elections and consumer rights against the misuse of AI technologies.