Published on: February 9, 2024
The Federal Communications Commission (FTC) unanimously voted to immediately ban scam calls involving the use of AI-generated voices.
Deepfake technology can pose serious harm to consumers. Scam callers can use deepfakes to lend credibility to scams in ways that were previously impossible. Criminals are already beginning to employ these tools to significantly boost the rate of fraud and phishing scams.
Government agencies are also at risk, as AI can be used to rapidly disseminate misinformation that can skew the results of elections both locally and nationally. Recently, a fake call pretending to be President Joe Biden urged thousands of voters in New Hampshire to refrain from voting. This is just a fraction of the potential harm the technology can cause.
“New Hampshire had a taste of how AI can be used inappropriately in the election process,” New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan said.
“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.”
Phone numbers that frequently use robocalls have already been disconnected from the US telephone network — though it’s a bandaid fix. It sends a message to scammers that they are tracking their activity.
“State Attorneys General will now have new tools to crack down on these scams and ensure the public is protected from fraud and misinformation,” said Rosenworcel.
The vote involved a new translation of the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act which allowed lawmakers to act without requiring time to draft a completely new set of rules.
That said, it isn’t a perfect fix.
“No one should think that this will stop bad actors from doing bad things,” said Andrew Schwartzman, who is the senior counselor at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. “But it gives the FCC tools to act quickly and to deter the companies that facilitate these practices.”