FCC Heightens Focus on Artificial Intelligence in Recent Actions

Consumer Advisory Committee Reinstated and Meeting Scheduled for April 4, 2024, on Heels of AI Robocall Ruling

Reinstatement of Consumer Advisory Committee

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel recently announced the Commission’s decision to reboot the Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC). The 12th CAC will be introducing 28 new and returning members, comprising non-profit consumer representative organizations, communications companies, trade associations, and individuals functioning as Special Government Employees on their own behalf.

The renewed focus of the CAC will be on consumer-related issues, specifically in the context of artificial intelligence (AI). The implications of emerging AI technologies on consumer privacy and protection will be a key focus area, including the potential role of AI in safeguarding vulnerable consumer groups from unwanted and illegal communications, among other consumer protection concerns.

The inaugural meeting of the relaunched CAC is scheduled for April 4, at 10:30 AM Eastern Time. The meeting will be viewable on the FFC’s webpage https://www.fcc.gov/live, where the public is welcome to submit comments and questions.

Decision Prohibiting Robocalls Using AI-Generated Voices

The reinstatement of the Consumer Advisory Committee follows a recent FCC decision addressing the classification of AI-generated voice calls under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

In this decision, the FCC held that calls made using AI-generated voices will be deemed “artificial” as per the TCPA. The decision states that the use of voice cloning technology in typical robocall scams aimed at consumers is illegal. These types of calls have surged over recent years, and the technology now holds the potential to mislead consumers by impersonating the voices of political candidates, celebrities, and even close family members.

The TCPA serves as the FCC’s primary tool for curbing junk calls, limiting telemarketing calls, and regulating the use of automatic telephone dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded voice messages.

Additionally, the TCPA mandates that telemarketers must obtain prior express written consent from consumers before initiating robocalls.

The FCC’s decision ensures that AI-generated voices used in calls are subject to these same TCPA standards. This decision is supported by a coalition of more than half of the states’ attorneys general, who have expressed concerns about the potential misuse of this new technology to manipulate consumers. With this ruling, state attorneys general now have the power to enforce robocall regulations under the TCPA.

The FCC’s decision to revamp the CAC, along with its new stance on AI voice calls, highlights the growing influence of AI on consumer protection and privacy.

For any questions regarding these specific FCC actions, or the FCC’s role with respect to the regulation of artificial intelligence or the TCPA, please contact Jeffrey Rummel and Adam Bowser.


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