Robocalls that use AI-generated voices now banned in the US

  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has moved forward with its plan to ban any robocalls made using AI-generated voices in the US.
  • The measure was proposed last month, and will fall under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
  • Under 1991 law, artificial or recorded voices are not allowed for robocalls, and the FCC has deemed AI-generated voices as infringing this.

Last month the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) outlined its plan to ban AI-generated robocalls in the United States, and this week, that plan took another step in coming to fruition.

Here commissioners voted unanimously in favour of a Declaratory Ruling regarding the banning of AI-generated robocalls under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

This as AI-generated robocalls have been deemed to be artificial, as commissioners used a 1991 law within the TCPA that makes it illegal to use recorded or artificial voices to call residents without their consent.

Last month per Ars Technica, the FCC explained that telemarketers and marketing companies need, “to obtain prior express written consent from consumers before robocalling them. If successfully enacted, this Declaratory Ruling would ensure AI-generated voice calls are also held to those same standards.”

With AI meeting those same criteria, it is now illegal for companies to utilise AI-generation for their robocalls moving forward, with the ruling enforceable right now.

“Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to extort vulnerable family members, imitate celebrities and misinform voters. We’re putting the fraudsters behind these robocalls on notice,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel told Engadget in a statement.

“State Attorneys General will now have new tools to crack down on these scams and ensure the public is protected from fraud and misinformation,” she added.

Given that the United States is in a presidential election year, which will no doubt see an increase in robocalls as political parties look to contact potential voters, it will be interesting to see just how this new ruling will be enforced.

South Africa too has a high volume of robocalls occurring daily, and anecdotally, AI-generated robocalls appear to be leveraged more frequently. Whether this ruling in the United States will prompt local regulators to do the same is unclear for now, but with governments scrutinising the use of AI with greater fervour, telemarketers are coming under the spotlight for their practices.

If you want to know precisely why robocalls are the bane of every human being’s existence, we highly recommend watching a video on the subject by Last Week Tonight with John Oliver after the break.

[Image – Photo by Rock’n Roll Monkey on Unsplash]


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