New Hampshire AI robocall imitating President Joe Biden traced to Dean Phillips presidential campaign News
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New Hampshire AI robocall imitating President Joe Biden traced to Dean Phillips presidential campaign

The Associated Press (AP) and NBC News released exclusives Friday identifying Lousiana magician Paul Carpenter and political consultant Steve Kramer, who was associated with the Dean Phillips presidential campaign, as the parties responsible for a series of robocalls in New Hampshire that used AI to imitate President Joe Biden ahead of the Democratic primary in the state. 

According to the AP and NBC News, Carpenter was hired by Kramer, a consultant for the Phillips campaign at the time. Carpenter told the AP he thought Kramer was working for the Biden campaign, alleging that Kramer told him the Biden campaign needed to create the AI phone call to save time and money. Carpenter shared screenshots with the AP and NBC News showing a text from Kramer with the script for the phone call and a Venmo payment, which Carpenter alleged was payment for creating the robocall. Carpenter also showed NBC News and the AP a text from Kramer days after the news of the AI robocall was in the headlines with a link to the news story and the word, “Shhhhhhh.” Carpenter alleged that he called Kramer, who instructed him to “just delete all the emails, act like nothing happened.”

Phillips responded to the revelations on X (formerly known as Twitter), writing:

I’m disgusted that a consultant hired to assist my campaign w/ballot access is alleged to have faked a robocall impersonating Joe Biden. While I don’t know the person, such behavior is despicable and I trust will be investigated by authorities. It’s also despicable that the Party actively limits access to state ballots and blackballs reputable consultants who would otherwise work with challengers like me. The corruption in politics is pervasive and must be exposed and addressed.

Carpenter responded to the release of the AP and NBC News stories by publishing an example of an AI video of Biden that he quickly created to show how easy the process is. Carpenter also responded to criticism on Facebook of his willingness to make the robocall despite its message not to vote, stating:

I was told the recordings were going to be listened to, to show the effectiveness and w[h]ether or not they would be used in the future[.] From what I understood it was all based on a “see if it sounds good” then I wo[k]e up to a text message that says shhhhh 3 days later.

Reports of the AI robocall began circulating on January 22, when the New Hampshire Department of Justice (NHDOJ) released a statement alleging that the call said, “Your vote makes a difference in November, not this Tuesday.” The NHDOJ also claimed the calls “spoofed” or imitated the number of “the treasurer of a political committee that has been supporting the New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Primary write-in efforts for President Biden.”

Then, on February 6, the NHDOJ released an update claiming that the calls were traced to Texas corporations, Life Corporation and Lingo Telecom, which provided phone services to Life Corporation. The NHDOJ issued a cease and desist, document preservation notices and subpoenas to Life Corporation. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also issued a cease and desist order to Lingo Telecom, demanding “the company immediately stop supporting illegal robocall traffic on its networks.”

The New Hampshire AI robocalls have prompted immediate action from both the government and private sectors. On February 9, the FCC issued new guidelines prohibiting the use of AI-generated voices in robocalls. On February 17, leading technology corporations such as Adobe, Amazon, Google, IBM, Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI and TikTok announced a voluntary commitment aimed at safeguarding democratic elections from the disruptive potential of artificial intelligence tools.