"A real-life example of an attempt to use AI to interfere with an election."
Officials say they've identified the culprit behind an AI-generated robocall featuring a fake President Joe Biden telling people not to vote — a weird bit of AI-inflected political maneuvering that could be a sign of things to come in a dirty election year.
The Washington Post reports that New Hampshire's attorney general is opening a criminal investigation into the alleged perpetrator of the calls, a Texas-based outfit called Life Corp. Also involved is a company called Lingo Telecom, which as TechCrunch notes has gone by many different names and received numerous citations from the Federal Communications Commission for illegal activity.
Held on January 23, New Hampshire's primary ballot didn't include Biden's name because the Democratic National Committee recognizes South Carolina's election, which took place last week, as the first "official" election of the presidential primary season. To work around the confusion, Biden boosters launched a write-in campaign urging potential supporters to jot down his name on their ballots anyway.
NH Democrats were targeted by the offending robocalls and urged not to write the president in because their vote "makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday."
The @WGME I-Team has obtained audio of a fake Joe Biden robocall targeting people in #NewHampshire telling them not to vote tomorrow. @NH_DOJ is investigating and believes this was made using #ArtificialInteligence. #fitn #NHPolitics pic.twitter.com/afi386wPXi
— Dan Lampariello (@DanWGME) January 22, 2024
Soon after the incident, the FCC moved to make AI robocalls illegal, and as the NH Department of Justice explained in a press release, it's working closely with the agency's enforcement bureau in its criminal probe, which will look into "potential election law violations, consumer protection act violations, and telephone consumer protection act violations."
The debacle has clearly shaken up elections experts, who are no stranger to attempts at interference.
Former federal attorney David Becker, who now leads the Center for Election Innovation and Research, told PBS last month that although "robocalls and dirty tricks go back a long ways," this instance is particularly dangerous.
"They don’t need to convince us that what they’re saying, the lies they’re telling, are true," Becker said. "They just need to convince us that there is no truth, that you can’t believe anything you’re told."
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