Telemarketing in the Age of AI: The FCC’s Latest Ruling

By: Molly Melcher , Kimberly Culp , Blaine Schmidt

What You Need To Know

  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently clarified how the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) applies to voices generated through artificial intelligence (AI).
  • Companies that promote their businesses through telemarketing should:
    • Determine whether and how they implement artificial intelligence in their telemarketing practices
    • Confirm that all telemarketing practices using artificial intelligence comply with TCPA requirements, including by obtaining prior written express consent from customers before initiating calls
    • Stay alert for any new laws or rulings concerning the use of artificial intelligence in telemarketing

The FCC is grappling with issues at the intersection of AI and consumer marketing. On February 2, 2024, the FCC adopted a declaratory ruling that AI-generated human voices constitute “artificial or prerecorded voice[s]” under the TCPA, which governs telemarketing phone calls and text messages. Although companies may still use AI technology for telemarketing purposes, the ruling makes clear that they must comply with all TCPA requirements when doing so. For example, such companies must obtain prior express consent before calling a party even when providing an AI-generated equivalent of a live agent via voice cloning.

The FCC’s decision may come as no surprise, considering the Federal Trade Commission’s warnings about the use of AI when creating and marketing digital products. Nonetheless, companies that employ AI and telemarketing to promote their business should add this ruling to their list of considerations when strategizing in today’s changing legal landscape.