AGs denounce fake Biden robocall linked to Texas company

The task force sent a letter to Life Corporation on Tuesday regarding calls made to New Hampshire voters.
Supporters of a President Biden write-in campaign stand outside the Holderness Town Hall polling site during presidential primary election day, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, in Holderness, N.H. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

States’ anti-robocall task force sent formal warning to a Texas-based company linked to artificial intelligence-generated robocalls made to New Hampshire primary voters last month.

The letter sent Tuesday from all 50 state attorneys general and the Federal Communications Commission Enforcement Bureau, which comprise the task force, said the Life Corporation in Austin was identified “as the originating calling customer” responsible for the robocalls.

“The Task Force has immediate concerns that this attempt to disrupt New Hampshire’s Presidential Primary Election is something that Life Corp … or other individuals or entities in the robocall ecosystem may seek to replicate … during this year’s Presidential election cycle,” the letter said.

Life Corp executives did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

The calls featured a voice that sounded like President Biden telling voters to skip New Hampshire’s Jan. 23 presidential primary and save their vote for November. New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella (R) has said it appears the message was created using AI technology that makes it possible to clone another person’s voice.

Separately, Formella’s office announced Tuesday that it issued a cease-and-desist order to Life Corp warning of potential enforcement action. The office’s election law unit has also ordered the company and other potentially involved entities to preserve records related to the calls.

“Ensuring public confidence in the electoral process is vital. AI-generated recordings used to deceive voters have the potential to have devastating effects on the democratic election process,” Formella said in a statement.

Formella’s office said it continues to investigate the calls, which some media reports said were made using AI voice generator software made by ElevenLabs. The office said it could not confirm that reporting. It is estimated that more than 20,000 calls were sent in the two days prior to the primary.

Recent advancements in generative AI technology have made it easier and faster to create fake audio, video and images known as deepfakes. Lawmakers in multiple states this year are considering legislation to regulate the use of AI in election-related materials.

Life Corp was identified as the originator of the New Hampshire calls using traceback notices that were sent by USTelecom’s Industry Traceback Group. Call spoofing technology was reportedly used to make it look like the calls originated from the former chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, according to Formella’s office.

The task force letter said some of the calls appeared to be part of a telephony denial of service attack, which is when a high volume of automated calls overwhelms the communications system. The letter warns Life Corp that the calls could have violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Truth in Caller ID Act, as well as state consumer protection laws.

“The spread of misinformation and disinformation is unacceptable,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) said in a statement Tuesday. “Whether in California, New Hampshire, or Texas, I am proud to join in this national effort to protect both consumers and the integrity of our elections.”