Washington, DC — January 31, 2024 — FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel today proposed that the FCC recognize calls made with AI-generated voices are “artificial” voices under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which would make voice cloning technology used in common robocalls scams targeting consumers illegal. The rise of these types of calls has escalated during the last few years as this technology now has the potential to confuse consumers with misinformation by imitating the voices of celebrities, political candidates, and close family members. By taking this step, the FCC will provide new tools to State Attorneys General across the country to go after bad actors behind these nefarious robocalls and hold them accountable under the law.
“AI-generated voice cloning and images are already sowing confusion by tricking consumers into thinking scams and frauds are legitimate. No matter what celebrity or politician you favor, or what your relationship is with your kin when they call for help, it is possible we could all be a target of these faked calls,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “That’s why the FCC is taking steps to recognize this emerging technology as illegal under existing law, giving our partners at State Attorneys General offices across the country new tools they can use to crack down on these scams and protect consumers.”
In November, the FCC launched a Notice of Inquiry to build a record on how the agency can combat illegal robocalls and how AI might be involved. The agency asked questions on how AI might be used for scams that arise out of junk calls, by mimicking the voices of those we know, and whether this technology should be subject to oversight under the TCPA. Similarly, the FCC also asked about how AI can help us with pattern recognition so that we turn this technology into a force for good that can recognize illegal robocalls before they ever reach consumers on the phone.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is the primary law the FCC uses to help limit junk calls. It restricts the making of telemarketing calls and the use of automatic telephone dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded voice messages. Under FCC rules, it also requires telemarketers 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.
Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle A. Henry led a coalition of 26 State Attorneys General—more than half of the nation’s AGs—supporting this approach. By taking this step, the FCC is building on its work to establish partnerships with law enforcement agencies in states across the country to identify and eliminate illegal robocalls. The FCC currently has a Memorandum of Understanding with 48 State Attorneys General to work together to combat robocalls.
“My office supports the regulation of the use of artificial intelligence in robocalls under existing law, in order to protect consumers from intentionally deceptive and manipulative marketing tactics,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Michelle Henry said. “We commend Chairwoman Rosenworcel for considering our input and taking this timely action to ensure consumers have the ability to provide prior written consent before receiving calls with A.I. technology serving as a live agent.”