Scam Robocalls Use AI To Disrupt New Hampshire Election

New Hampshire legal authorities are investigating fake robocalls pretending to originate from US President Joe Biden in an apparent effort to employ artificial intelligence (AI) to disrupt the state’s Tuesday primary elections.

The calls use a voice resembling Biden’s and are suspected to be artificially generated.

“Although the voice in the robocall sounds like the voice of President Biden, this message appears to be artificially generated based on initial indications,” said the office of the New Hampshire attorney general in a statement.

“These messages appear to be an unlawful attempt to disrupt the New Hampshire Presidential Primary Election and to suppress New Hampshire voters. New Hampshire voters should disregard the content of this message entirely.”

AI scam

New Hampshire secretary of state David Scanlan said the calls “reinforce a national concern about the effect of artificial intelligence on campaigns”.

The message urges voters to “save their vote” for the November election and not vote in the primary.

“Republicans have been trying to push nonpartisan and Democratic voters to participate in their primary. What a bunch of malarkey,” the message says.

But there is no rule that those who vote in a primary cannot vote in the general election, meaning there is no reason for voters to choose one or the other.

Fake caller ID

The personal mobile phone number of a prominent Democrat, Biden’s party, appears as the caller identification.

Former state Democratic chairwoman Kathy Sullivan, to whom the number belongs, has filed a formal complaint about the robocalls.

“This call links back to my personal cell phone number without my permission,” Sullivan said in a statement, calling the calls “outright election interference”.

Anti-robocall application Nomorobo estimated the calls had been placed between 5,000 and 25,000 times, CNN reported.

Election concerns

Sullivan was New Hampshire Democrat party chair in 2002, when a so-called phone jamming effort was carried out during a closely contested US Senate race.

Two Republican officials were later convicted of using computer-generated phone calls to disrupt Democrats’ call centre operations.

Both of the main parties are holding primaries in New Hampshire on Tuesday, with Biden all but certain to gain his party’s nomination.

The campaign of Donald Trump, Biden’s main Republican rival, denied involvement in the scam calls.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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