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FCC Proposes $6 Million Fine Against Scammer for Using Voice-Cloning Technology to Impersonate President Biden

The FCC has proposed a $6 million fine against a scammer who used voice-cloning technology to impersonate U.S. President Joe Biden in a series of illegal robocalls during the New Hampshire primary election. This incident serves as a stern warning to other potential high-tech scammers about the misuse of generative AI in such schemes.

In January, many New Hampshire voters received fraudulent calls mimicking President Biden, urging them not to vote in the primary. The voice-cloning technology, which has become widely accessible, enabled this deception using just a few minutes of Biden’s publicly available speeches.

The FCC and other law enforcement agencies have made it clear that using fake voices to suppress votes or for other malicious activities is strictly prohibited. Loyaan Egal, the chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, emphasized their commitment to preventing the misuse of telecommunications networks for such purposes. The primary perpetrator, political consultant Steve Kramer, collaborated with the disreputable Life Corporation and telecom company Lingo, among others, to execute the robocall scheme.

While Kramer faces violations of several rules, there are currently no criminal charges against him or his associates. The FCC’s power is limited to civil penalties, requiring cooperation with local or federal law enforcement for further action. Although the $6 million fine represents a significant penalty, the actual amount paid may be lower due to various factors. Kramer has the opportunity to respond to the allegations, and additional actions are being taken against Lingo, which could lead to further fines or the loss of licenses.

Following this case, the FCC officially declared in February that AI-generated voices are illegal to use in robocalls. This decision underscores the agency’s stance on generative AI and its potential for abuse, aiming to prevent future incidents of voter suppression and other fraudulent activities.

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