New Hampshire Attorney General Launches Investigation into Disruptive Robocall Campaign
Reports have surfaced that the recent campaign aimed at discouraging New Hampshire voters from participating in the state’s presidential primary is linked to two Texas-based telecommunications companies. The New Hampshire Attorney General, John Formella, announced on Tuesday that an investigation had been launched and subpoenas had been sent to the companies identified as Lingo Telecom and Life Corporation.
The thousands of robocalls encouraged residents not to vote in the primary, but rather save their vote for November’s election, claiming it would benefit Republicans trying to re-elect former President Donald Trump. Joe Biden’s campaign was quick to denounce the robocalls as disinformation and referred the issue to the attorney general who has since opened a criminal investigation into these fraudulent efforts using artificial intelligence (AI).
A Closer Look at Lingo Telecom and Life Corporation
Attorney General Formella revealed that Life Corporation and Lingo Telecom might not be the only entities involved, but they are currently at the center of this case, having been cited for previous violations. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has even given both companies cease-and-desist orders for illegal robocall activities in the past.
- Life Corporation: The company was warned by the FCC for delivering unsolicited prerecorded advertisements without disclosing required information such as caller name and contact details back in 2003. Life Corporation may face additional consequences if it continues facilitating illegal robocalls, including potential disconnection from the US telephone network via FCC order.
- Lingo Telecom: The company also received a cease-and-desist letter from the FCC, which stated that both Life Corporation and Lingo Telecom had already been warned about their illegal robocall activities. The letter emphasized the importance of immediately ceasing to originate any further illegal call traffic, as well as the potential risk of breaking multiple laws if they continue.
The owner of Life Corporation, who has a history of involvement in various ventures including Voice Broadcasting (a company that specializes in large-scale political robocalls), has recently come under scrutiny again. His past political contributions also raised eyebrows when it was revealed he and his ex-wife donated $5,000 each to PLR PAC back in 2008, a Kansas-based political action committee primarily airing advertisements on Spanish-language broadcast channels.
Challenging Misuse of AI Technology in Elections
The New Hampshire case is a stark example of how artificial intelligence can be used to interfere with elections and mislead voters, especially so close to a primary. The CEO of ElevenLabs applauded Attorney General Formella’s swift action against attempts aimed at disrupting democratic processes and expressed commitment to preventing the misuse of audio AI tools, although they refrained from commenting specifically on the Biden deepfake call.
While the official declined to discuss ongoing investigations into the robocalls, they did mention that the Justice Department recently brought a case against a defendant accused of suppressing votes through spreading false information, highlighting the serious nature of this issue and its potential impact on election outcomes.
Combating Illegal Robocalls: A National Priority
Jurisdictions across all levels of government have made it clear that combating illegitimate robocalls is of utmost importance. In recent years, there have been numerous efforts by officials at the state and federal levels to address these disruptions to the democratic process and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
The New Hampshire case involving Lingo Telecom and Life Corporation will likely serve as a landmark example of the lengths to which some individuals may go to manipulate election outcomes. As technology continues to evolve, lawmakers must adapt accordingly and find effective ways to manage the proliferation of misleading content and ensure the integrity of elections across the United States.