U.S., E.U. authorities take aim at AI and online dirty tricks

Authorities on both sides of the Pond are poised to pounce on questionable uses of artificial intelligence as digital tools for manipulation and deception become more and more sophisticated.

In the U.S., Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan said Tuesday the federal government will “not hesitate to crack down” on business practices that “manipulate and deceive people on a large scale, deploying fake or convincing content more widely and targeting specific groups with greater precision.”

The message was directed in part at developers of ChatGPT and other AI tools. Khan and top civil rights and consumer protection officials warned the businesses that regulators are tracking and quashing illegal behavior when it comes to using and developing biased or deceptive AI tools.

Similar statements are coming out of Europe, where authorities in London and Brussels are pressuring TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon with new rules that would curb the digital behemoths’ power.

Those are just five of 19 mega online platforms and search engines that the European Union has tasked with purging illegal content and disinformation and ensuring users’ safety from hate speech and scams.

The 27-nation bloc has passed the Digital Services Act, which will take effect Aug. 25. It requires the largest online platforms to make it easier for their European users to report illegal content such as hate speech, and for companies to be forthcoming on why certain content gets recommended. In addition, deepfake videos and synthetic images will have to be clearly labeled as such in search results.

TikTok and Twitter have agreed to let the E.U. conduct a “stress test” to determine whether they are taking enough measures to comply with the Digital Services Act, Commissioner Thierry Breton said in an online briefing.

Facebook parent company Meta expressed support and said compliance would not be a problem.

“We take significant steps to combat the spread of harmful content on Facebook and Instagram across the EU,” the company said.

The U.K. government on Tuesday unveiled the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers bill to enable regulators to buttress digital competition and better protect consumers from online scams and fake reviews. Violations are punishable by fines of as much as 10% of a company’s revenue.

In the U.S., scrutiny has focused on companies that use digital tools amplifying bias about hiring decisions, worker productivity evaluation or the doling out of housing and loan approvals. The FTC may also use its antitrust authority to ensure healthy competition.

With News Wire Services