The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued new measures to streamline artificial intelligence (AI) investigations amid rising concerns over the safety of AI products for consumers.

New Measures by FTC

The FTC stated that the new measures empower employees to issue civil investigative demands (CIDs) to AI developers suspected of breaching consumer protection rules. Under the FTC’s rulebook, CIDs operate like subpoenas, with the regulator disclosing that the new measures will improve the pace and depth of AI investigations.

Investigators can demand documents and oral testimonies from AI developers and their executives via the update. The update came in the form of an omnibus resolution and, barring any unforeseen circumstances, is expected to last for 10 years until another review.

The FTC voted 3-0 in favor of the resolution, noting that the new measures will only apply to non-public investigations involving AI or with products that claim to detect AI use.

“The omnibus resolution will streamline FTC staff’s ability to issue civil investigative demands (CIDs), which are a form of compulsory process similar to a subpoena, in investigations relating to AI, while retaining the Commission’s authority to determine when CIDs are issued,” read the announcement.

FTC Concerns

The FTC is concerned with the potential of AI misuse to perpetuate fraud and infringe on the privacy of millions of Americans. The regulator has also been grappling with the grim prospect of a monopoly of the fledgling AI sector by leading industry firms, noting that their dominance may promote discrimination and bias.

“The manner in which companies are developing and releasing generative AI tools and other AI products, however, raises concerns about potential harm to consumers, workers, and small businesses,” said the FTC in response to a U.S. Copyright Office’s request for information.

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Back in July, the FTC issued a CID to OpenAI, confirming the start of an in-depth investigation into the firm on allegations revolving around “unfair or deceptive privacy or data security practices.”

Heightened Regulatory Action

U.S. regulators are ramping up efforts to monitor the sector following threats to critical sectors of the national economy and other emerging technologies.

Seeking opinions on the best ways to proceed, the U.S. Copyright Office launched a public consultation into AI and intellectual property. At the same time, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has indicated a keen interest in AI use in capital markets.

Ahead of the 2024 elections, the Federal Electoral Commission (FEC) is scrambling new regulations to guide the usage of AI-generated deepfakes in political campaigns to protect voters from misinformation.

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By Team