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FTC reportedly investigating OpenAI over consumer protection issues

Publish Date
Fri, 14 Jul 2023, 2:38PM
Photo / AP
Photo / AP

FTC reportedly investigating OpenAI over consumer protection issues

Publish Date
Fri, 14 Jul 2023, 2:38PM

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has launched an investigation into ChatGPT creator OpenAI and whether the artificial intelligence company violated consumer protection laws by scraping public data and publishing false information through its chatbot, according to reports in the Washington Post and the New York Times.

The agency sent OpenAI a 20-page letter requesting detailed information on its AI technology, products, customers, privacy safeguards and data security arrangements, according to the reports. An FTC spokesman had no comment.

OpenAI founder Sam Altman tweeted disappointment that news of the investigation started as a "leak," noting that the move would "not help build trust" but added the company will work with the FTC.

"It's super important to us that out technology is safe and pro-consumer, and we are confident we follow the law," he wrote. "We protect user privacy and design our systems to learn about the world, not private individuals."

The FTC's move represents the most significant regulatory threat so far to the nascent but fast-growing AI industry, although it's not the only challenge facing these companies. Comedian Sarah Silverman and two other authors have sued both OpenAI and Facebook parent Meta for copyright infringement, claiming that the companies' AI systems were illegally "trained" by exposing them to datasets containing illegal copies of their works.

News of the investigation broke just hours after a combative House Judiciary Committee hearing in which FTC chair Lina Kahn faced off against Republican lawmakers who charged she has been too aggressive in pursuing technology companies for alleged wrongdoing.

Republicans said she has been "harassing" Twitter since its acquisition by Elon Musk, arbitrarily suing large tech companies and declining to recuse herself from certain cases. Khan pushed back, arguing that more regulation is necessary as the companies have grown and that tech conglomeration could hurt the economy and consumers.

On Thursday, OpenAI and The Associated Press announced a deal under which the AI company will license AP's archive of news stories.

-Associated Press

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