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FCC fines Lingo Telecom $2M over AI-generated robocalls impersonating Biden

The first of its kind enforcement action charges the company with violating the FCC’s caller ID authentication rules, the agency announced in a press release Thursday. In a related action, the FCC proposed a $6 million fine against political consultant Steve Kramer who engaged several companies, including Lingo, to transmit the calls.

In February, the FCC’s enforcement bureau issued a cease-and-desist letter to the company’s Chief Compliance Officer Alex Valencia warning that failure to comply “may result in downstream providers permanently blocking all of Lingo’s traffic.”

The details: On Jan. 21, two days before the New Hampshire Presidential Primary, individuals received calls that used an AI-generated deep fake prerecorded message that apparently sounded like Biden. The spoofing campaign allegedly told individuals not to vote in the primary.

The inaccurate and misleading calls also transmitted a caller ID number that appeared to be the spouse of Kathy Sullivan, a former New Hampshire Democratic Party chair who runs a super PAC that led an effort to have voters write in Biden’s name in the state’s primary election, per the letter.

“Lingo Telecom transmitted these calls, incorrectly labeling them with the highest level of caller ID attestation, making it less likely that other providers could detect the calls as potentially spoofed,” the FCC said.

The company failed to use know your customer protocols, which led to the robocalls being transmitted, and was obligated to protect its network from the illegal traffic, the FCC said.

Compliance considerations: In February, the FCC ordered the company to mitigate any illegal traffic within 48 hours and to put in place new, effective measures to stop customers from using its network to transmit illegal calls within 14 days of the letter.

Lingo did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The monetary penalties are not finalized and are pending court approval. Compliance Week

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