March 1, 2024

FTC enhances investigative procedures to deal with AI-related lawbreaking

The Federal Trade Commission unanimously approved a measure to streamline its staff’s ability to issue civil investigative demands in AI investigations while retaining its authority to determine when CIDs are issued.

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved a new streamlined process for investigating cases involving the unlawful use of artificial intelligence (AI), marking an increased focus on addressing potential legal violations related to AI applications.

The FTC unanimously approved a measure to streamline its staff’s ability to issue civil investigative demands (CIDs) — a form of compulsory process similar to a subpoena — in investigations relating to AI while retaining its authority to determine when CIDs are issued.

The FTC issues CIDs to obtain documents, information and testimony that advance consumer protection and competition investigations. According to the FTC’s statement, the omnibus resolution will be effective for 10 years.

In conjunction with other measures, this action highlights the FTC’s commitment to investigating AI-related cases. Critics of the technology have expressed concerns that it could amplify fraudulent activities.

According to a Reuters report, during a September U.S. Senate confirmation hearing, FTC Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter, who was being considered for re-nomination as commissioner, concurred with the two other nominees that the focus should be on challenges such as the use of AI to enhance the persuasiveness of phishing emails and robocalls.

Related: OpenAI to rehire Sam Altman as CEO with new initial board members

The emergence of AI has opened up new avenues for human expression and creative capabilities. However, the capacity to perform various tasks with a digitally generated AI identity has also brought about new challenges. According to Sumsub data, the proportion of fraud attributed to deep fakes more than doubled between 2022 and the first quarter of 2023, with a notable increase in the U.S., from 0.2% to 2.6%.

On Nov. 16, the agency unveiled a competition to determine the most effective method to safeguard consumers from fraud and other risks associated with voice cloning. Voice cloning technology has grown more sophisticated as text-to-speech AI technology has improved. The technology holds promise for consumers, such as medical assistance for those who may have lost their voices due to accident or illness.

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