US watchdog probes ChatGPT creator OpenAI over consumer protection issues

14 July 2023, 08:14 | Updated: 25 July 2023, 11:46

OpenAI FTC Investigation
OpenAI FTC Investigation. Picture: PA

An FTC spokesperson had no comment on the investigation, which was first reported by the Washington Post on Thursday.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched an investigation into ChatGPT creator OpenAI and whether the artificial intelligence (AI) company violated consumer protection laws by scraping public data and publishing false information through its chatbot.

The agency sent OpenAI a 20-page letter requesting detailed information on its AI technology, products, customers, privacy safeguards and data security arrangements.

An FTC spokesperson had no comment on the investigation, which was first reported by the Washington Post on Thursday.

The FTC document the Post published told OpenAI the agency was investigating whether it has “engaged in unfair or deceptive privacy or data security practices” or practices harming consumers.

OpenAI founder Sam Altman tweeted disappointment that the investigation was disclosed in a “leak”, noting that the move would “not help build trust”, but added that the company will work with the FTC.

He said: “It’s super important to us that out technology is safe and pro-consumer, and we are confident we follow the law.

“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 is 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.

Mr Altman has emerged as a global AI ambassador of sorts following his testimony before Congress in May and a subsequent tour of European capitals where regulators were putting final touches on a new AI regulatory framework.

Mr Altman himself has called for AI regulation, although he has tended to emphasise difficult-to-evaluate existential threats such as the possibility that super-intelligent AI systems could one day turn against humanity.

Some argue that focusing on a far-off “science fiction trope” of super-powerful AI could make it harder to take action against already existing harms that require regulators to dig deep on data transparency, discriminatory behaviour and potential for trickery and disinformation.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

A bucket rests next to caution tape on a beach in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Florida

Girl ‘killed after hole she dug in sand collapsed on Florida beach’

President Joe Biden visits CJ’s Cafe in Los Angeles

Joe Biden cancels student loan debt for 153,000 borrowers


Beyonce becomes first black woman to top Billboard’s country music chart

The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Boeing ousts head of 737 jetliner programme weeks after panel blowout

Court artist sketch of former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez in court

Honduran ex-president on trial in US accused of drugs trafficking

Members of The Eagles, from left, Timothy B Schmit, Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh

Criminal case over handwritten lyrics to Hotel California goes to trial

Alec Baldwin-Set Shooting

Jury selection begins for trial of Rust armourer after shooting by Alec Baldwin

Image provided by Intuitive Machines shows its Odysseus lunar lander with the Earth in the background

Private US spacecraft enters orbit around the Moon before landing attempt

Boris Nadezhdin

Russian court rejects appeal over politician’s removal from presidential race

James Biden, the brother of US President Joe Biden

James Biden says his brother had no involvement in family’s business dealings

Poland farmers protesting

Zelensky invites Polish leaders to border as farmers’ protest hits weapons flow

Two men look at flames after a natural gas pipeline explodes outside the city of Boroujen in Iran (Reza Kamali Dehkordi/AP)

Iran accuses Israel of attack that saw explosions strike natural gas pipeline

A resident looks for belongings in an apartment building destroyed during fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces in Borodyanka, Ukraine (Vadim Ghirda/AP)

EU agrees new sanctions against Russia as Ukraine war’s second anniversary looms

Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, left, talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi as he arrives for a delegation level meeting in New Delhi (Manish Swarup/AP)

Greek PM asks India to build global ties amid wars in Ukraine and Middle East

Indian farmers who have been protesting for a week to demand guaranteed crop prices wait to march to New Delhi (Altaf Qadri/AP)

Man dies as clashes erupt between police and protesting farmers in India

Polish farmers drive tractors in a convoy in Minsk Mazowiecki, Poland as they intensify a nationwide protest against the import of Ukrainian foods and European Union environmental policies (Czarek Sok

Poland concerned by pro-Putin slogans at farmers’ protests