Political consultant behind AI-generated Biden robocalls faces $6 million fine, criminal charges

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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A political consultant who sent Artificial intelligence generated robocalls Impersonating President Joe Biden's voice to voters ahead of New Hampshire's presidential primary has resulted in a $6 million fine and more than two dozen criminal charges.

Federal Communications Commission He said the penalty he proposed for Steven Kramer on Thursday included his first generative AI technology. Lingo Telecom, the company accused of relaying the calls, faces $2 million in fines, the FCC said, although the parties in both cases could negotiate a settlement or further negotiations.

Cramer has admitted to orchestrating a message that was sent to thousands of voters two days ago. First primary in the country On January 23. The message featured an AI-generated voice impersonating the Democratic president, using his catchphrase “What a bunch of malarkey” and falsely suggesting that voting in the primaries will keep voters from voting in November. will be given.

Kramer faces 13 felony charges alleging that he violated New Hampshire's law against using misleading information to prevent someone from voting. He also faces 13 counts of corruption alleging that he, by his own conduct or that of another person, presented himself as a candidate. The charges were filed in four counties and will be prosecuted by the state attorney general's office.

Attorney General John Farmella said New Hampshire is committed to ensuring its elections “remain free from unlawful interference.”

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“I'm pleased to see that our federal partners are similarly committed to protecting consumers and voters from harmful robocalls and voter suppression,” said Formella, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Chris Sanono.

Lingo Telecom said it strongly disagreed with the FCC's action, which it described as an attempt to retroactively impose new rules.

“Lingo Telecom takes its regulatory responsibilities very seriously and has fully cooperated with federal and state agencies to help identify the parties responsible for launching the New Hampshire robocall campaign,” the company said. “Lingo Telecom was not involved in anything in the production of these calls and the steps it took were in compliance with all applicable federal regulations and industry standards.”

The New Hampshire calls were falsely shown to recipients as coming from the personal cell phone number of former state Democratic Party Chair Cathy Sullivan, who helped run Biden's write-in campaign. She said in an email Thursday that she hopes Cramer is learning “the high cost of trying to rig an election.”

“Swift, decisive action by the New Hampshire Department of Justice and the FCC will hopefully deter other bad and/or foolish actors who do not respect democracy,” he said.

Cramer, who owns a firm that specializes in get-out-the-vote projects, did not respond to an email seeking comment Thursday. He told The Associated Press in February that he was not trying to influence the outcome of the election, but wanted to. Send a wake-up call. When it paid off, about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence Wizard of New Orleans $150 to make a recording.

“Maybe I'm a villain today, but I think in the end we'll have a better country and a better democracy because of what I've done on purpose,” Cramer said in February.

Voter suppression is punishable by 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison. Impersonation of a candidate is punishable by imprisonment up to one year.

In an interview days after being publicly identified as the source of the calls, Cramer said he disagreed that his robocalls suppressed voter turnout, noting that Biden Won the Democratic primary. By a wide margin as a write-in candidate. While he did ballot access work for another former Democratic presidential candidate, Representative Dan Phillips of Minnesota, Cramer said he worked alone.

“I wrestled in college. I'm ready to fight,” said Kramer, who is scheduled to appear in court June 5. “If they want to put me in jail, good luck.”

Since the New Hampshire robocalls, the FCC has taken steps to combat the growing use of artificial intelligence tools in political communications. In February, he confirmed it AI voice cloning tools are banned in robocalls. Under current law, and on Wednesday, he introduced A suggestion To require political advertisers to disclose when they use content they produce Artificial intelligence In broadcast television and radio advertising.

If adopted, the new rules would add a layer of transparency that many lawmakers and AI experts have been calling for. Rapidly advancing generative AI tools Extracting a lifetime of photos, videos and audio clips that are at risk. Misleading voters In the upcoming US elections.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworsell said Thursday that regulators are committed to helping states go after criminals. In a statement, he called New Hampshire's robocalls “disturbing.”

“Because when the caller looks like a politician you know, a celebrity you like, or a family member, any of us can be tricked into believing things that are Calls using AI technology are not accurate,” he said in a statement. Statement “This is exactly how the bad actors behind these spam calls want you to react with manipulated voices.”


Swenson reported from New York.


The Associated Press is supported by a number of private foundations to expand its explanatory coverage of elections and democracy. Learn more about the APK Democracy initiative Here. AP is solely responsible for all content.

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