FCC Moves to Shut Down Illegal Robocalls Using AI-Generated Voices

Mark Speer

Affirms that AI Voices are “Artificial,” Fall Under Existing TCPA Rules

On February 8, 2024, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) declared that AI-generated voices in illegal robocalls qualify as “artificial,” and are therefore prohibited under the existing Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules and regulations effective immediately. 

In announcing the ruling, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel stated, “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. 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 FCC works closely with state officials on an ongoing basis, sharing the expertise of its enforcement staff and partnering to support investigations, build cases, and ultimately protect consumers and businesses from all types of fraudulent communications.  

Some History

Artificial intelligence technology has exploded in headlines this last year and AI was used in fraudulent robocalls simulating President Biden before the New Hampshire primary just last month. However, neither robocalls nor the use of AI in them is new. In fact, notwithstanding the FCC’s best efforts, robocalls increased 10% in 2023 to 55B+ and experts say AI has been used in elections around the world. However, as Rosenworcel notes, AI technology is now good enough to confuse and potentially scam even immediate family members. According to Robokiller/NBC News, there were also 15B political robotexts last year and a wide variety of illicit texts.

Despite the timing between the New Hampshire primary and last week’s announcement, illegal robocalls (and texts) have been one of the biggest issues facing the FCC for nearly a decade. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act is their primary mechanism for limiting these activities. It restricts telemarketing calls and text messages, as well as automatic telephone dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded voice messages.  It also requires telemarketers to obtain prior express written consent from consumers before robocalling them. 

The new ruling holds AI-generated voices to these same standards. There are also increased calls for Congress to enact official legislation.

What Does This Mean for Fraudulent Telemarketers?

The TCPA provides several enforcement mechanisms, including:

  • Civil enforcement authority for the FCC to fine robocallers up to and over $23K/call.  
  • Additionally, the FCC can move to block calls from telecom carriers that facilitate illegal robocalls.
  • Individual consumers or an organization have the ability to bring a lawsuit against robocallers in court and recover up to $1.5K in damages for each unwanted call. 
  • And, State Attorneys General have their own laws and enforcement tools which may be linked to the TCPA. 

As always, Commio has a variety of mechanisms in place to help ensure the calls and text messages on our network are legitimate, including Know Your Customer policies and automated systems to help detect noncompliant traffic. Commio’s Acceptable Use Policy is also updated regularly to align with industry advancements and FCC mandates; we encourage new and existing customers to review them on a regular basis. And, our Customer Support team is happy to answer any questions.

Date posted: February 16, 2024

Topic: Outbound   Outbound Voice  

Tags: artificial intelligence   FCC   Know Your Customer   Robocalls  

Mark Speer

As VP of Product Management & Carrier Relations, Mark ensures that thinQ’s products deliver maximum value and efficiency across a wide variety of implementations. When he’s not working with our carriers to make sure calls complete, he enjoys classic cars, traveling, artwork and exploring the desert southwest. He also enjoys spending time with his wife and family in Tucson, Arizona where they reside.

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