Two companies based in Texas have been linked to a spate of robocalls that used artificial intelligence to mimic President Joe Biden. The audio deepfake was used to urge New Hampshire voters not to participate in the state’s presidential primary. New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said as many as 25,000 of the calls were made to residents of the state in January.
Formella says an investigation has linked the source of the robocalls to Texan companies Life Corporation and Lingo Telecom. No charges have yet been filed against either company or Life Corporation’s owner, a person named Walter Monk. The probe is ongoing and other entities are believed to be involved. Federal law enforcement officials are said to be looking into the case too.
“We have issued a cease-and-desist letter to Life Corporation that orders the company to immediately desist violating New Hampshire election laws,” Formella said at a press conference, according to CNN. “We have also opened a criminal investigation, and we are taking next steps in that investigation, sending document preservation notices and subpoenas to Life Corporation, Lingo Telecom and any other individual or entity.”
The Federal Communications Commission also sent a cease-and-desist letter to Lingo Telecom. The agency said (PDF) it has warned both companies about robocalls in the past.
The deepfake was created using tools from AI voice cloning company ElevenLabs, which banned the user responsible. The company says it is “dedicated to preventing the misuse of audio AI tools and [that it takes] any incidents of misuse extremely seriously.”
Meanwhile, the FCC is seeking to ban robocalls that use AI-generated voices. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the agency is responsible for making rules regarding robocalls. Commissioners are to vote on the issue in the coming weeks.