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Sask. government calls on Ottawa to restrict AI voice cloning

(Photo: pexels) (Photo: pexels)

Saskatchewan is calling on the federal government to implement restrictions on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for voice cloning in unsolicited communications.

The province says AI technology is evolving rapidly and can pose serious risks if the proper restrictions are not in place to prevent its misuse.

“A specific area of concern is the use of AI-generated voices, which can be used to clone someone’s voice to misrepresent them,” the province said in a statement.

“Saskatchewan is urging the federal government to take all appropriate steps to put protections in place in Canada to prevent the misuse of AI-generated voices and voice cloning.”

AI-driven programs are able to take samples of almost anybody’s voice and recreate them almost perfectly, using common phrases while matching the tone and even the accent of the original samples.

Voice cloning could bypass financial institutions' voice password authentication systems, allowing scammers to access private bank accounts.

Saskatchewan government points to a recent case in the US where a man used an AI-generated copy of President Joe Biden's voice to discourage people from voting in the 2024 New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary.

On February 8, the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that robocalls using AI-generated voices were illegal and Saskatchewan is calling on the federal government to create similar restrictions in Canada.

“This technology has significant potential to disrupt democratic processes such as elections,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Bronwyn Eyre said.

“Canadian citizens must have confidence that the proper controls are in place to protect them, and our democracy, from the misuse of emergent technologies such as AI and voice synthesis.”

Telecommunications in Canada are regulated by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), which reports to the federal government through the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Unsolicited communications are governed by the Unsolicited Telecommunication Rules. These rules apply to both telemarketers and people using auto-dialers to make unsolicited calls.

-With files from Christopher Liew Top Stories

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