Rosenworcel Proposes Making AI-Generated Robocalls Illegal

A group of state attorneys general endorsed the move in response to an NOI.

Rosenworcel Proposes Making AI-Generated Robocalls Illegal
Photo by Terry Ballard

WASHINGTON, February 1, 2024 – Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel proposed rules on Wednesday that would make AI-generated robocalls illegal.

The declaratory ruling, if adopted, would classify calls made with AI-generated voices as “artificial voices” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

That would require callers using the technology to get express written consent of consumers, making prolific AI-assisted robocall scams against the law.

“AI-generated voice cloning and images are already sowing confusion by tricking consumers into thinking scams and frauds are legitimate,” Rosenworcel said in a statement. “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.”

The proposal is in line with a recommendation from 26 of those state attorneys general, who collectively submitted a comment endorsing such a move to the agency’s artificial intelligence notice of inquiry – issued in November to gauge how the technology can be used to both facilitate and prevent robocalls.  

It’s the latest in a series of moves to combat scam calls and texts. The agency increased consent requirements for robotexts in December and is taking comments on instituting a text authentication scheme, similar to the STIR/SHAKEN protocol mandated for voice providers.

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey, introduced a bill on Monday that would also target AI scam calls, doubling the maximum penalties for using AI-generated calls or texts to violate the TCPA. The bill would also widen the FCC’s robocall authority generally.

It’s something Rosenworcel requested from the House Commerce Committee, where Pallone is a ranking member, at an oversight hearing in November. She also said congressional action giving the commission authority to collect fines and access to Bank Secrecy Act information would aid in the fight against scam calls.