Biden calls for ban of AI voice impersonations in State of the Union address

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union Address from the U.S. Capitol on March 7, 2024.

President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union Address from the U.S. Capitol on March 7, 2024. Shawn Thew-Pool/Getty Images

The President became the subject of an AI-generated robocalling scam in January.

President Joe Biden called for the banning of voice impersonations powered by artificial intelligence systems in his Thursday night State of the Union address.

In listing the administration’s agenda items, Biden called to “ban AI voice impersonations” while ensuring the emerging technology can be harnessed while protecting people “from its peril.”

Biden became the subject of an AI voice impersonation scam in January when a robocalling operation originated a cloned voice of the president at the New Hampshire primary, calling up voters and telling them to “save their votes” for the November presidential election.

The Federal Communications Commission last month made AI-generated voices in robocalls illegal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, a 1991 statute that gives the FCC authority to regulate junk calls through an established national “Do Not Call” registry.

But the move, which had backing from state authorities, did not constitute a blanket ban on AI voice impersonations in any other context at the federal level.

Spam and robocalling operations have been traditionally carried out in environments with human managers overseeing calling schemes, but AI technologies have automated some of these tasks, allowing robocalling operations to leverage speech and voice-generating capabilities of consumer-facing AI tools available online or on the dark web.

As Congress, agencies and the private sector deliberate over how to best regulate AI systems, officials and researchers fear the emerging technology will supercharge the spread of election misinformation and disinformation in November and beyond. 

A senior Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency official recently said that the agency has been following AI-backed cyber campaigns aiming to influence election outcomes.