Robocaller behind AI Biden deepfake faces charges and hefty FCC fine

Political consultant Steve Kramer has been charged with voter suppression and impersonating a candidate.


A political consultant who admitted to using a deepfake of President Joe Biden's voice in a robocall scheme this year is facing several charges as well as a hefty fine from the Federal Communications Commission. Steve Kramer (pictured above) told NBC News that his aim with the New Hampshire primary robocall was to warn people about the dangers of artificial intelligence.

Kramer previously worked for Dean Phillips, a long-shot Democratic presidential candidate who suspended his campaign in March. Kramer has called for "immediate action" on AI "across all regulatory bodies and platforms."

He has now been charged with 13 felony counts of voter suppression and 13 misdemeanor counts of impersonation of a candidate. The phony Biden voice allegedly urged people not to participate in the primary and to “save your vote for the November election.” New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella, who announced the charges, said in February that the robocall reached as many as 25,000 voters.

The FCC has proposed a $6 million fine against Kramer, citing an alleged violation of the Truth in Caller ID Act as the robocall is said to have spoofed a local political consultant's phone number. The agency also proposed a $2 million fine against Lingo Telecom, the telecom carrier that operated the phone lines, for allegedly violating caller ID authentication rules. The FCC banned AI-generated voices in robocalls soon after the Kramer incident.

“New Hampshire remains committed to ensuring that our elections remain free from unlawful interference and our investigation into this matter remains ongoing," AG Formella said. "The Federal Communications Commission will separately be announcing an enforcement action against Mr. Kramer based on violations of federal law. I am pleased to see that our federal partners are similarly committed to protecting consumers and voters from harmful robocalls and voter suppression."

Meanwhile, the FCC may soon require political advertisers to disclose the use of any AI in TV and radio spots. However, chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel is not seeking to ban the use of AI-generated content in political ads. “As artificial intelligence tools become more accessible, the commission wants to make sure consumers are fully informed when the technology is used,” Rosenworcel said in a statement on Wednesday.