Political Consultant Faces $6 Million Fine For Fake Biden Robocalls

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Friday, May 24, 2024 - 11:00 PM

Authored by Jana Pruet via The Epoch Times,

New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella announced on Thursday that Steven Kramer had been indicted on more than two dozen charges for allegedly sending artificial intelligence-generated robocalls mimicking President Joe Biden’s voice to voters ahead of the New Hampshire presidential primary earlier this year.

“New Hampshire remains committed to ensuring that our elections remain free from unlawful interference, and our investigation into this matter remains ongoing,” Mr. Formella said.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed a $6 million fine for Mr. Kramer, 54, a Louisiana-based political consultant who is indicted on 13 counts of felony voter suppression and 13 counts of misdemeanor impersonation of a candidate.

“The Federal Communications Commission will separately be announcing an enforcement action against Mr. Kramer based on violations of federal law,” the attorney general continued. “I am pleased to see that our federal partners are similarly committed to protecting consumers and voters from harmful robocalls and voter suppression. 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.”

Mr. Kramer has admitted to orchestrating the AI-generated voice similar to the president’s and using the phrase ‘What a bunch of malarkey’ in the call that was sent to thousands of voters.

The voice also falsely suggested that voting in the primary would preclude voters from casting ballots in the general election in November.

Voters who received the robocall message were allegedly asked to “save [their] vote for the November election.” The message also stated, “[y]our vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday,” according to the attorney general’s office.

“We will act swiftly and decisively to ensure that bad actors cannot use the telecommunications networks to facilitate the misuse of generative AI technology to interfere with elections, defraud consumers, or compromise sensitive data,” Loyann Egal, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau chief, said in a statement.

The charges were filed across four counties, including Rockingham, Belknap, Grafton, and Merrimack, based on the residence of the thirteen identified voters who received the robocalls.

Telecom Company Also Faces Fine

In a separate announcement, the FCC proposed a $2 million fine in a “first-of-its-kind enforcement action” against Lingo Telecom, the company accused of transmitting the robocalls, for violating federal caller identification authentication rules.

“Two days before the New Hampshire 2024 presidential primary election, illegally spoofed and malicious robocalls carried a deepfake audio recording of President Biden’s cloned voice telling prospective voters not to vote in the upcoming primary,” the FCC said on Thursday. “The inaccurate and misleading calls also transmitted the caller ID number of an unknowing local political operative.”

Texas-based Lingo Telecom is accused of not applying protocols to verify the accuracy of the customer’s information and failing to use certain standards mandated by the commission that serve as a “digital identifier for each call to empower tracebacks of suspicious calls, inform robocall blocking tools, and support more reliable caller ID information for consumers.”

“We will hold providers accountable for failing to know their customers and for failing to uphold the rules we have in place to protect the American public,” Mr. Egal said.

In February, the FCC issued a cease-and-desist letter against the telecom company, demanding it “immediately stop supporting unlawful robocall traffic on its networks.”

FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that the FCC is working with attorneys general nationwide to combat the use of AI in spreading false information.

“Consumers deserve to know that the person on the other end of the line is exactly who they claim to be,” Ms. Rosenworcel said in a statement earlier this year. “That’s why we’re working closely with State Attorneys General across the country to combat the use of voice cloning technology in robocalls being used to misinform voters and target unwitting victims of fraud.”

The investigation into the AI-generated robocalls impersonating President Biden, including other possible responsible parties, remains ongoing.