The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is launching an inquiry into the relationships between major technology companies and generative AI firms, with a focus on the partnerships between Microsoft and OpenAI, Amazon and Anthropic, and Google and Anthropic. This comes as part of a trend of increasing government involvement in AI and big tech, with the FTC seeking to understand the impact of these partnerships on market shares, competition, and potential for sales growth. The inquiry is authorized under Section 6(b) of the FTC Act, allowing the FTC to conduct studies on market trends and business practices. The aim is to prevent these companies from forming monopolies on developing and monetizing AI.
The announcement of this inquiry reflects the growing pressure that federal regulators have been placing on big tech companies and their ability to control and influence various markets. While previous federal involvement in AI has focused on controlling its development and safeguarding its usage, this new inquiry is focused on ensuring fairness in creating AI. Depending on the FTC’s findings, legislative impacts could follow suit in the form of anti-monopolistic lawsuits, fines, or comprehensive legislation. Companies involved in creating generative AI should understand this new involvement and the potential legal outcomes that could come from federal oversight.
Meanwhile, Italy’s data protection authority, Garante, has claimed that the AI application ChatGPT, created by OpenAI, breaches data protection rules. This comes after the regulatory agency opened an investigation into the AI application last year, temporarily banning it. OpenAI has been given thirty days to present a defense to these claims or face regulatory punishments. This announcement reflects the EU’s proactive approach to overseeing generative AI developers, as well as the increasing scrutiny of AI applications for privacy concerns.
In a related development, the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been found buying American browsing data from commercial brokers without a warrant. A letter between the agency’s director, Paul Nakasone, and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden confirmed these data purchases, prompting calls for US intelligence officials to stop buying the personal information of Americans without their consent or knowledge. This letter follows a trend of US intelligence agencies purchasing data that may include US citizen information, signaling a renewed interest in protecting privacy.
Elsewhere, the US Treasury Department has sanctioned two Egyptian nationals for their alleged work in training ISIS members on cybersecurity and overseeing the terrorist group’s funding efforts. The department accused the two of helping ISIS establish a violent anti-West propaganda outlet as well as providing support and guidance when using cryptocurrencies. This marks a notable case of US agencies targeting terrorist affiliates for assisting in cyberwarfare efforts and monitoring international cryptocurrency exchanges.
Finally, Germany has announced its approval of the EU’s new AI act after a compromise was reached between the EU and Germany’s digital issues minister. This new act aims to establish a regulatory framework for the development of AI, with a focus on implementing innovation-friendly rules and greater improvements for small to medium-sized businesses. This reflects the increasing global efforts to establish regulations and oversight in the growing field of AI development.