The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States has sent a clear message about AI robocalls. In a declaratory ruling, issued on February 8, the FCC clarified that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s (TCPA) restrictions on the use of “artificial or prerecorded voice” apply to current AI technologies that generate human voices, such as voice cloning. The ruling aims to protect consumers from unwanted and illegal robocalls enabled by AI.
The announcement comes after several AI-generated robocalls were made in New Hampshire, mimicking President Joe Biden’s voice to discourage people from voting in the state’s primary last month. New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella announced the opening of a criminal investigation into the matter. His office added that they are working with the FCC and a private industry group to trace the source of the robocalls. The investigation into those AI-generated robocalls is ongoing.
The TCPA protects consumers from unwanted calls made using an artificial or prerecorded voice, requiring the caller to obtain the prior express consent of the called party. In November 2023, the FCC released a Notice of Inquiry seeking to understand the implications of emerging AI technologies on robocalls and robotexts. The FCC indicated its authority under the TCPA likely encompasses current uses of AI in robocalling, such as imitating human speech.
In the unanimous ruling, the FCC confirms the TCPA’s restrictions on “artificial or prerecorded voice” apply to AI technologies that generate human voices or use pre-recorded voices to interact with consumers. For example, “voice cloning,” which artificially simulates a human voice, falls under the TCPA’s prohibition. The FCC concludes these technologies are “artificial” voices not spoken by a person, representing the types of calls the TCPA aims to restrict. The ruling aligns with the FCC’s 2020 determination that the TCPA applies to calls initiated with pre-recorded messages, even if a live agent is involved.
The ruling clarifies that callers must obtain consent before using AI to initiate robocalls that mimic human voices, unless an emergency purpose or exemption applies. Identification and opt-out requirements for robocalls also apply. The FCC aims to deter deceptive uses of AI like fraudsters imitating voices of trusted individuals. The ruling responds to state attorneys general and industry stakeholders requesting clarification that the TCPA’s consent requirements apply to AI-generated voice calls.
If you’re wondering how the FCC’s ruling could impact you, don’t hesitate to reach out to BABL AI with your questions and concerns. Their Audit Experts are ready to provide valuable assistance.