The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

FTC launches probe over ChatGPT, citing consumer harm

(Stock image)
(Stock image)

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched an investigation against OpenAI’s machine learning tool ChatGPT over concerns that the product may be causing consumer harm by perpetuating false information about individuals.

The 20-page civil subpoena made public on Thursday says the FTC is probing whether OpenAI allowed ChatGPT to engage in “unfair or deceptive practices relating to risks of harm to consumers, including reputational harm.”

The subpoena orders OpenAI to furnish documents to the FTC connected with the tool, including how it minimizes the potential that ChatGPT might “generate statements about real individuals that are false, misleading or disparaging.”

This week, the FTC’s Chairperson, Lina Khan, said she heard complaints “where people’s sensitive information is showing up in response to an inquiry from somebody else.”

“We’ve heard about libel, defamatory statements, flatly untrue things that are emerging,” Khan said during a House Judiciary Hearing. “That’s the type of fraud and deception that we are concerned about.”

OpenAI and the FTC have declined to comment on the subpoena. Microsoft is one of the biggest financial investors in OpenAI, having made a $1 billion commitment to the firm in 2019. Since last year, ChatGPT has been integrated in various Microsoft products, including its Bing search engine, with plans to incorporate it into other consumer and enterprise tools in the future.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).