Business

FTC says it won’t ‘hesitate to crack down’ on harmful business practices involving AI

The head of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned Tuesday it would not “hesitate to crack down” on businesses that use artificial intelligence tools like ChatGPT for nefarious purposes. 

The comments came from FTC Chair Lina Khan during a virtual press event Tuesday with top officials from U.S. civil rights and consumer protection agencies. 

FTC

FILE: The emblem of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission this week. (REUTERS/Yuri Gripas / Reuters Photos)

Much of the scrutiny surrounding certain AI tools has been on those who deploy them to amplify bias into decisions about whom to hire, how worker productivity is monitored, or who gets access to housing and loans.

But amid a fast-moving race between tech giants such as Google and Microsoft in selling more advanced tools that generate text, images and other content resembling the work of humans, Khan also raised the possibility of the FTC wielding its antitrust authority to protect competition.

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“We all know that in moments of technological disruption, established players and incumbents may be tempted to crush, absorb or otherwise unlawfully restrain new entrants in order to maintain their dominance,” Khan said. “And we already can see these risks. A handful of powerful firms today control the necessary raw materials, not only the vast stores of data, but also the cloud services and computing power that startups and other businesses rely on to develop and deploy AI products.”

Lina Khan speaking

Lina Khan, commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (Saul Loeb-Pool/Getty Images, File / Getty Images)

While Khan didn’t single out any specific companies or products, she expressed concern about tools that scammers could use to “manipulate and deceive people on a large scale, deploying fake or convincing content more widely and targeting specific groups with greater precision.”

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She said the FTC would “not hesitate to crack down on this unlawful behavior” if AI tools are being used to further “unfair, deceptive practices or unfair methods of competition.”  

She added: “There is no AI exemption to the laws on the books.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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