Robocaller Who Spoofed Joe Biden’s Voice With AI Faces $6 Million Fine

Deepfake Deterrent

As election season heats up, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is sending a strong message to anyone who seeks to use artificial intelligence on robocalls.

Democratic political consultant Steve Kramer is, as the FCC announced in a press release, facing a whopping $6 million fine for sending thousands of New Hampshire voters robocalls featuring the deepfaked voice of president Joe Biden, encouraging them not to vote in the state's primary.

Kramer, who'd been working for upstart presidential candidate Dean Phillips, commissioned the calls during New Hampshire's primaries. Due to an unusual technicality, Biden's name was not on the ballot. The robocalls — which Kramer admitted to commissioning — were meant to suppress a write-in campaign for the president, a terrifying incident that highlights the very real risks of having AI tech interfere in an election.

Faux Biden

In a January 21 call, a voice that sounded like Biden's was heard telling voters that their vote "makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday" — a message that officials maintain amounts to electoral interference.

In the aftermath of the January robocall, the FCC moved swiftly to ban AI-generated robocalls — though technically, they were already illegal per the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a 1991 law that outlaws, among other things, "artificial" voices in robocalls.

With this latest announcement, the FCC is throwing the book at Kramer, who seemed to express no remorse when he admitted to being behind the AI robocalls earlier this year.

In a statement to New Hampshire Public Radio, state attorney general John Formella said that he hopes the hefty fine will, in tandem with the 13 other charges at the state level Kramer is facing, "send a strong deterrent signal to anyone who might consider interfering with elections, whether through the use of artificial intelligence or otherwise."

As of now, the $6 million fine is not set in stone because, as the FCC said in its statement, Kramer will have a chance to respond, argue his case, and submit evidence before the agency decides what to do next.

Nevertheless, Kramer's admission to being the commissioner of the calls — which he made with the help of former shock jock magician Paul Carpenter — and his seeming lack of remorse in initial interviews on the subject certainly won't help his case.

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