Open AI CEO Sam Altman.
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The Federal Trade Commission is investigating the maker of ChatGPT, OpenAI, to understand whether the company has violated consumer protection laws.
The Washington Post, which was the first to report the news, published the FTC’s 20-page civil investigation complaint, similar to a citation, that outlines the key points of the investigation. A source familiar with the matter confirmed the authenticity of the document to CNBC. The FTC declined to comment.
The FTC says in the document that the investigation will focus on whether OpenAI has “engaged in unfair or deceptive data privacy or security practices” or “engaged in unfair or deceptive practices related to risks of harm to consumers, including harm to reputation, in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act.”
Artificial intelligence has become a hot topic in Washington as lawmakers try to understand whether new laws are needed to protect intellectual property and consumer data in the age of generative AI, which requires massive data sets to learn. The FTC and other agencies have emphasized that they already have legal authority to pursue damage created by AI.
The investigation is also an example of the FTC being proactive in its oversight of relatively nascent technology, in line with Chairman Lina Khan’s stated goal of being “forward-thinking” and paying attention to “next-generation technologies.”
The CID asks OpenAI to list the third parties that have access to its big language models, their top ten customers or licensors, explain how they retain and use consumer information, how they obtain information to train their LLMs, and more. The document also asks how OpenAI assesses risk in LLMs and how it monitors and deals with misleading or derogatory statements about people.
The CID requests OpenAI to provide information about a error that the company revealed in March 2020 that it “enabled some users to view titles of another active user’s chat history” and “may have caused the unintentional visibility of payment-related information for the 1.2% of ChatGPT Plus subscribers who were active during a specific window nine hours.”
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has received a warm welcome in Washington thus far, with lawmakers praising his openness to discussing the technology and calling for regulations on it. But some AI experts have warned that policymakers should also be aware that the company has its own incentives to articulate its vision for regulation, and urged them to engage a diverse set of voices.
OpenAI did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
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