Robocalls that use AI-generated voices are now illegal

Robocalls have been a plague on society for years, but they made headlines recently when an AI-generated robocall imitating President Joe Biden’s voice told New Hampshire Democrats not to vote in the presidential primary.

Days later, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel proposed the commission should recognize calls made with AI-generated voices as “artificial” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), thus making them illegal. On Thursday, February 8, the FCC unanimously adopted that Declaratory Ruling, formally making AI robocalls illegal.

“Bad actors are using AI-generated voices in unsolicited robocalls to extort vulnerable family members, imitate celebrities, and misinform voters,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel in an FCC press release on Thursday. “We’re putting the fraudsters behind these robocalls on notice. State Attorneys General will now have new tools to crack down on these scams and ensure the public is protected from fraud and misinformation.”

This is unquestionably a positive step. Robocalls are the bane of my existence, and if you have a phone of any kind, you all but certainly feel similarly. As the FCC explains, the TCPA gives the agency the authority to fine robocalls that use AI-generated voices and block calls from carriers that facilitate these robocalls. It also gives individual consumers and organizations the ability to bring a lawsuit against AI robocallers in court.

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A few years ago, I would have been skeptical about this having a sizable impact on the number of robocalls I receive every day, AI-generated or otherwise. But robocalls are finally beginning to trend down, and scam calls are trending down even faster.

On Thursday, the team behind the robocall-blocking app YouMail shared the results of its latest study, which shows that US consumers received just under 4.3 billion robocalls in January 2024. That might sound like a lot (and it is), but it’s a 5.2% decline from 4.5 billion robocalls in January 2023 and a 6.8% decline from the 2023 monthly average of 4.6 billion.

“We’re starting to see a trend of overall lower robocall volumes,” said YouMail CEO Alex Quilici on Thursday. “There is always some month-to-month volatility, but looking at the bigger picture, the total volumes of robocalls feels like it’s finally starting to come down.”

The post Robocalls that use AI-generated voices are now illegal appeared first on BGR.

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