It is now illegal for robocallers to use AI generated voices thanks to a new ruling from the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday.
By unanimous decision, the FCC expands the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA, to cover robocall scams containing AI voice clones. The new rule takes effect immediately, allowing the commission to fine companies and block providers for making these types of calls.
“Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to extort vulnerable family members, impersonate celebrities, and misinform voters,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement Thursday. “We are calling out the scammers behind these robocalls.”
The move comes a few days after the FCC and New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella identified Life Corporation as the company behind the mysterious robocalls impersonating President Joe Biden last month ahead of the state’s primary election. At a news conference Tuesday, Formella said his office had opened a criminal investigation into the company and its owner, Walter Monk.
The FCC first announced its plan to ban AI-generated robocall scams by updating the TCPA last week. The agency has used the law in the past to go after trash callers, including conservative activists and pranksters Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman. In 2021, the FCC fined them more than $5 million for carrying out massive robocalling scheme to discourage voters from voting by mail in the 2020 election.
“While this generative AI technology is new and poses many challenges, we already have many of the tools we need to meet that challenge,” Nicholas Garcia, policy advisor at Public Knowledge, tells WIRED. “We can enforce existing laws like the TCPA, and a regulatory agency like the FCC has the flexibility and expertise to intervene and respond to these threats in real time.”