On Tuesday, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella said that a Texas-based telecom company was behind the reportedly AI-generated robocalls impersonating President Joe Biden that went out ahead of the state’s presidential primary last month.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Formella announced that he had identified Life Corporation and its owner, Walter Monk, as the source behind the thousands of calls, and announced that his office issued a cease-and-desist letter to the company and had opened a criminal investigation into the matter. The Federal Communications Commission sent its own cease-and-desist letters to Life Corporation, as well as another Texas company, Lingo Telecom, the alleged voice service provider of the calls.
“Ensuring public confidence in the electoral process is vital,” Formella said at the Tuesday press conference. “We’re providing this update and information today to assure the public that we take this seriously and that this is one of our most important priorities. We are also providing this update and information to send a strong message of deterrence to any person or entity who would attempt to undermine our elections through AI or other means.”
Formella said that anywhere from 5,000 to 25,000 of these robocalls were placed ahead of the New Hampshire primary to mimicked Biden and discourage voters from voting. “Your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday,” the robocall said.
In January, WIRED reported that two teams of researchers had determined that the call was created with voice-cloning software from the AI startup Eleven Labs. The company declined to take responsibility for the Biden clone, telling WIRED that it was “dedicated to preventing the misuse of audio AI tools.”
Last week, the FCC put out a new proposal to ban robocalls that used AI-generated voices by updating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA, a 1991 law that regulates telemarketers. The FCC has used the TCPA in the past to go after junk callers, including conservative activists Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman. In 2021, the FCC fined the pair more than $5 million for violating the law after they placed calls threatening to release the personal information of voters if they voted by mail in the 2020 election.
“Consumers deserve to know that the person on the other end of the line is exactly who they claim to be,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement on Tuesday.