FCC says AI-generated robocalls will be illegal

The new rules were issued after a robocall that sounded like President Joe Biden told New Hampshire voters not to vote in the state's primary.
A person holds a cellphone with an unknown Caller ID.
Posted at 1:49 PM, Feb 08, 2024

The Federal Communications Commission announced new rules on Thursday that make robocalls generated by artificial intelligence illegal. The new rules come a month after voters in New Hampshire got a robocall that sounded like President Joe Biden telling them not to vote in the state's Democratic primary. 

The FCC says AI-generated robocalls will be constituted as violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

“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,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “State Attorneys General will now have new tools to crack down on these scams and ensure the public is protected from fraud and misinformation.” 

The new rules also come after a bipartisan group of attorneys general urged the FCC to ban AI-generated robocalls.

"Technology is advancing and expanding, seemingly, by the minute, and we must ensure these new developments are not used to prey upon, deceive, or manipulate consumers,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry said. “This new technology cannot be used as a loophole to barrage consumers with illegal calls."

Robocall to New Hampshire voters reportedly faked Biden's voice
President Joe Biden

Robocall to New Hampshire voters reportedly faked Biden's voice

New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said any such message would be an illegal attempt to suppress the vote.


The new rules say that AI technologies that resemble human voices cannot be utilized unless the receiver of the call agrees. 

"Our rules require that all artificial or prerecorded voice messages must provide certain identification and disclosure information for the entity responsible for initiating the call," the rule stipulates. " In every case where the artificial or prerecorded voice message includes or introduces an advertisement or constitutes telemarketing, it must also offer specified opt-out methods for the called party to make a request to stop calling that telephone number."

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act was enacted in 1991. It set rules for telemarketers, such as not calling residences after 9 p.m., honoring a "Do Not Call" registry, and not making prerecorded calls to services such as hospitals and physicians' offices.