The Federal Trade Commission has approved an omnibus resolution authorizing the use of compulsory process in nonpublic investigations involving products and services that use or claim to be produced using artificial intelligence (AI) or claim to detect its use.

The omnibus resolution will streamline FTC staff’s ability to issue civil investigative demands (CIDs), which are a form of compulsory process similar to a subpoena, in investigations relating to AI, while retaining the Commission’s authority to determine when CIDs are issued. The FTC issues CIDs to obtain documents, information and testimony that advance FTC consumer protection and competition investigations. The omnibus resolution will be in effect for 10 years.

AI includes, but is not limited to, machine-based systems that can, for a set of defined objectives, make predictions, recommendations, or decisions influencing real or virtual environments. Generative AI can be used to generate synthetic content including images, videos, audio, text, and other digital content that appear to be created by humans. Many companies now offer products and services using AI and generative AI, while others offer products and services that claim to detect content made by generative AI.

Although AI, including generative AI, offers many beneficial uses, it can also be used to engage in fraud, deception, infringements on privacy, and other unfair practices, which may violate the FTC Act and other laws. At the same time, AI can raise competition issues in a variety of ways, including if one or just a few companies control the essential inputs or technologies that underpin AI.

The Commission voted 3-0 to approve the omnibus resolution authorizing compulsory process in investigations related to the use of AI.

The lead FTC staffers on this matter are Nadine Samter and Ben Halpern-Meekin in the FTC’s Northwest Region office.

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