The FTC targeted OpenAI’s ChatGPT with a lengthy criminal investigation questionnaire

OpenAI, maker of the AI ​​chatbot ChatGPT and related products, has received a criminal investigation request (CID) from the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Washington Post reported on July 13th. CID reproduced on the newspaper’s website undated. CID is similar to a subpoena, and recipients are legally required to provide the information they request.

The FTC is investigating whether OpenAI used “unfair or deceptive privacy or data security practices” or “unfair or deceptive practices related to risks of harm to consumers, including damage to reputation.” The agency is also considering whether monetary penalties for the alleged practice would be in the public interest, according to CID.

The 20-page document then posed 49 detailed questions for the company and called for 17 categories of documents for its investigation. The company has 14 days to contact FTC advisors to discuss how to comply with the agency’s request.

The FTC asks in its CID what major language models are used in OpenAI products, how they are used and how products based on them are trained and how their accuracy is guaranteed.

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CID also inquires about advertising policies, risk assessment, collection and protection of personal information, how “public figure” status is determined and how feedback and complaints are handled. Many questions are quite broad. For example:

“Describe in Detail the extent to which you have taken steps to address or mitigate the risk that your Big Language Model Product could create of false, misleading, or disparaging real individuals.”

The Microsoft-powered ChatGPT sent shockwaves to the IT world when it was introduced on November 30th. Users are wondering about the implications of this powerful new technology, and competitors are scrambling to catch up.

I have read the FTC subpoena to OpenAI.

It’s basically looking for a complete picture of how ChatGPT works.

This covers data security and fraud – where the FTC has clear authority – but also copyright & defamation, where it doesn’t.

— Adam Kovacevich (@adamkovac) July 13, 2023

In an inevitable reaction, multiple countries have announced investigations. A letter calling for a moratorium on AI development was signed by 2,600 technology figures – including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman spoke before the United States Senate about AI safety.

OpenAI is also facing several lawsuits. The class action lawsuit filed in Northern California District Court on June 28 alleges the company harvested personal data from the internet without permission. Mass-market writers Mona Awad and Paul Tremblay sued OpenAI in June for copyright infringement, and comedian Sarah Silverman and two other writers sued OpenAI and Meta the following month claiming they used an illegal “shadow library” to train their AI.

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