Creator of AI-generated fake Biden robocalls appears in court for first time

A political consultant who sent AI-generated robocalls imitating President Joe Biden’s voice made his first court appearance Wednesday in New Hampshire, where he is accused of voter suppression and impersonating a candidate before the first primary. presidential elections of the state in the country.

Steven Kramer, who also faces a proposed $6 million fine from the Federal Communications Commission, admitted to orchestrating a message that was sent to thousands of voters two days before the Jan. 23 primary. The message played an AI-generated voice similar to that of the Democratic president who used his phrase “What a load of nonsense” and falsely suggested that voting in the primary would prevent voters from casting their ballots in November.

Kramer was charged last month with 13 felonies alleging he violated a New Hampshire law that prohibits attempting to dissuade someone from voting by using misleading information. He also faces 13 misdemeanor charges accusing him of falsely representing himself as a candidate based on his own conduct or that of another person.

The charges were filed in four counties and are being prosecuted by the state attorney general’s office.

At Kramer’s arraignment in Belknap County on Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Brendan O’Donnell successfully argued that Kramer should be ordered to post $10,000 cash bail. He argued that the amount was necessary to ensure Kramer returned to court given that he travels frequently and maintains homes in several states.

Kramer’s attorney, Tom Reid, argued for personal recognizance bail. He said Kramer has a long history of appearing in regulatory proceedings and has never missed a court date.

“Traveling a lot does not make someone a flight risk,” he said.

Kramer declined to comment as he left the courthouse. His attorney said he “enjoys the presumption of innocence.”

“Obviously now we’re enjoying the presumption of innocence, we’re going to review all the different charges and engage in conversations with the attorney general’s office,” Reid said.

Kramer, who owns a company that specializes in get-out-the-vote projects, told The Associated Press in February that he was not trying to influence the outcome of the primary election, but rather wanted to send a wake-up call about the situation. potential dangers of artificial intelligence when he paid a New Orleans magician $150 to create the recording.

“I may be a villain today, but I believe that in the end we will get a better country and a better democracy because of what I have deliberately done,” Kramer said in February.

Voter suppression carries a prison sentence of 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison. Impersonating a candidate is punishable by up to one year in prison.

Since the New Hampshire robocalls, the FCC has taken steps to combat the growing use of artificial intelligence tools in political communications. In February, it confirmed that AI voice cloning tools in robocalls are prohibited under current law, and on Wednesday it unveiled a proposal to require political advertisers to disclose when they use AI-generated content in radio and television ads. .

If adopted, the new rules would add a layer of transparency that many lawmakers and AI experts have been calling for as rapidly advancing generative AI tools produce realistic images, videos and audio clips that threaten to mislead voters in the next US elections.

The charges against Kramer were announced the same day the FCC proposed his fine, along with a $2 million fine against Lingo Telecom, the company accused of transmitting the calls. The proposed fines were the agency’s first involving generative AI technology, but Lingo Telecom said it strongly disagreed with the FCC’s action, which it called an attempt to retroactively impose new rules.

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