Faked Biden Robocall Results in Charges for Democratic Operative

A Democratic operative faces state criminal charges and a fine from federal regulators for using artificial intelligence to fake President Joe Biden’s voice in robocalls aimed at dissuading Democrats from voting in the New Hampshire primary election.

Bloomberg
First Published24 May 2024
Faked Biden Robocall Results in Charges for Democratic Operative
Faked Biden Robocall Results in Charges for Democratic Operative

A Democratic operative faces state criminal charges and a fine from federal regulators for using artificial intelligence to fake President Joe Biden’s voice in robocalls aimed at dissuading Democrats from voting in the New Hampshire primary election.

Steve Kramer, who worked for Biden’s Democratic primary challenger Dean Phillips, was accused by state prosecutors on Thursday of 13 felony counts of voter suppression and 13 misdemeanor counts for allegedly impersonating a candidate. The Federal Communications Commission also proposed fining Kramer $6 million for robocalls that were made using the spoofed number of a local political consultant.

“I hope that our respective enforcement actions send a strong deterrent signal to anyone who might consider interfering with elections, whether through the use of artificial intelligence or otherwise,” New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella said in a press release.

A spokesperson for Phillips didn’t respond to a request for comment. Kramer, who acknowledged responsibility for the calls in interviews with NBC News and other media outlets in February, didn’t immediately respond to voice and phone messages seeking comment.

The episode raised alarm among election officials and political operatives about the use of artificial intelligence to interfere with the election as the nascent technology has grown in popularity. Regulation of AI remains an elusive task for authorities and lawmakers in Washington, who are seeking to craft guardrails on the emerging field. 

Read more: Deepfake Biden Audio Alarms Experts in US Election Lead-Up

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on Wednesday unveiled a proposed rule that would require political advertisers to disclose the use of AI to produce material for ads on radio and television.

Agency officials have sought to shield consumers from unwanted robocalls by telemarketers. The FCC’s proposed fine in the New Hampshire case marks its most significant enforcement action over spoofed robocalls made with deepfaked audio. 

The commission also proposed a $2 million fine against Lingo Telecom for transmitting the calls and allegedly violating caller ID authentication rules. 

In a statement provided to the Associated Press, Lingo Telecom disputed the FCC move and said it has cooperated fully with authorities involved in the case. “Lingo Telecom was not involved whatsoever in the production of these calls and the actions it took complied with all applicable federal regulations and industry standards,” the company said.

The call circulated on Jan. 21, two days before the primary election, using a known catch-phrase of Biden’s and encouraging voters to stay home on the day of the primary.

“Save your vote for the November election,” the phone message said.

While Biden was not on the ballot for the first-in-the-nation primary, Democratic leaders urged their voters to write him in to signal that he had overwhelming support. The deepfake failed to damp the large turnout among Democrats backing the president.

This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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