The Federal Trade Commission is announcing the Voice Cloning Challenge to help promote the development of ideas to protect consumers from the misuse of artificial intelligence-enabled voice cloning for fraud and other harms.

“We will use every tool to prevent harm to the public stemming from abuses of voice cloning technology,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We want to address harms before they hit the marketplace, and enforce the law when they do.”

“This exploratory challenge leverages one of our many tools at the FTC,” added Stephanie T. Nguyen, the FTC’s Chief Technology Officer. “The challenge is crafted in a way that ensures companies are responsible for the first- and second-order effects of the products they release.”

Voice cloning technology has grown more sophisticated as text-to-speech AI technology has improved. The technology holds promise for consumers, such as medical assistance for those who may have lost their voices due to accident or illness. At the same time, the FTC has raised concerns about ways that voice cloning technology could be used to harm consumers. For example, it could make it easier for scammers to impersonate family, friends, or business executives; it could also enable fraudsters to deceive consumers by appropriating the voices of creative professionals. Earlier this year, the FTC warned consumers about the use of voice cloning to impersonate others to try to get consumers to give scammers money or personal information. And the FTC held a workshop in early 2020 that examined various issues related to voice cloning technology.

The FTC has and will continue to use its enforcement authority to target companies that misuse technology to harm consumers and competition. The challenge the FTC is launching today is focused on promoting the development of breakthrough ideas aimed at preventing, monitoring, and evaluating malicious use of voice cloning technology, whether it is a product, policy, or procedure.

Challenge submissions must address at least one of these intervention points:

  • Prevention or authentication: It must provide a way to limit the use or application of voice cloning software by unauthorized users;
  • Real-time detection or monitoring: It must provide a way to detect cloned voices or the use of voice cloning technology; or
  • Post-use evaluation: It must provide a way to check if an audio clip contains cloned voices.

The FTC will accept submissions online from January 2 to January 12, 2024. Information on how to submit a proposal for the challenge as well as complete challenge rules can be found on the challenge website. The challenge will offer $25,000 to the winner.

The Voice Cloning Challenge is the FTC fifth challenge issued pursuant to the America Competes act. The goal of these challenges is to spur the development of tools to address consumer problems, including one in 2012 aimed at tackling robocalls and a 2017 challenge focused on addressing security vulnerabilities related to Internet of Things devices.

The lead FTC staffers on this matter are James Evans and Christine Barker from the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection and Amritha Jayanti from the FTC’s Office of Technology.

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