American authorities are currently taking decisive actions to regulate generative AI. According to reports from The Washington Post, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is conducting an inquiry into OpenAI, the organization behind ChatGPT and DALL-E. The officials have asked for documentation demonstrating how OpenAI addresses potential risks associated with its extensive language AI models. The FTC is worried that the company might be breaching consumer protection regulations by engaging in “unfair or deceptive” practices that could compromise public privacy, security, or reputation.
The FTC is specifically focused on obtaining information related to a security flaw that resulted in the exposure of sensitive data, such as payment details and chat records, of ChatGPT users. Although OpenAI claimed that only a limited number of users were affected, the FTC is concerned that this could be due to inadequate security measures. Additionally, the agency is interested in receiving reports of any complaints regarding the AI making untrue or harmful statements about individuals, and they also want evidence demonstrating how well users comprehend the reliability of the products they are utilizing.
We have reached out to OpenAI to request their response. The FTC, on the other hand, has declined to comment, as they generally refrain from discussing ongoing investigations. However, in the past, the FTC has issued warnings about the potential risks of generative AI, cautioning that it could potentially harm consumers more than benefiting them. The technology might be misused for scams, deceptive marketing strategies, or even discriminatory advertising. If the FTC discovers that a company is in violation of regulations, they have the authority to impose fines or mandate consent decrees that require specific corrective actions to be taken by the company.
There are no immediate expectations for AI-specific laws and regulations, but the government is exerting more pressure on the tech industry. In May, OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, testified before the Senate, defending his company by highlighting the privacy and safety measures in place while promoting the purported advantages of AI. He assured that protections were implemented, but also stated that OpenAI would exercise greater prudence and continuously enhance its safeguards.
It remains uncertain whether the FTC will investigate other generative AI developers, like Google and Anthropic. However, the OpenAI investigation provides insight into the Commission’s potential approach in handling similar cases and indicates their firm commitment to thoroughly examining AI developers.