Making do on its promise to “use every tool” in its arsenal to regulate artificial intelligence (‘AI”), the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) unanimously approved a resolution on November 21, 2023 authorizing the use of compulsory process in non-public investigations involving AI-related products and services.
In a recent public comment addressed to the United States Copyright Office, the Federal Trade Commission seemingly expanded upon remarks made at the National Advertising Division back in September that it will aggressively and proactively challenge alleged unfair practices involving artificial intelligence, even if that means stretching the meaning of “unfair” to increase its jurisdiction over such matters.
On October 18, 2023, Amazon filed a motion to dismiss the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit alleging that the company deceived millions of consumers into nonconsensual Prime membership enrollment and thwarted members’ attempts to cancel their Prime subscriptions. In a heavily redacted complaint filed on June 21, 2023 in the Western District of Washington, the FTC charges Amazon with using “manipulative, coercive, or deceptive user-interface designs known as ‘dark patterns’ to trick consumers into enrolling in automatically-renewing Prime subscriptions,” in violation of the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act (“ROSCA”). The FTC describes the Amazon platform as bombarding customers with options to sign up for Prime and obscuring options to shop without Prime, making non-Prime alternatives difficult for consumers to locate. In some cases, the FTC alleges, the button to complete a transaction did not clearly state the shopper was also agreeing to enroll in a recurring Prime subscription.
On January 18, 2022, Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, one of the world’s most-valuable gaming companies, was announced. In April 2023, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the deal on concerns that the deal could “alter the future of the fast-growing cloud gaming market, leading to reduced innovation and less choice for UK gamers over the years,” a decision that Microsoft appealed to a Competition Appeal Tribunal. A few months later, in July 2023, as previously reported in Minding Your Business, the FTC’s challenge to the deal in the United States fell short, leaving the UK as the only competition authority preventing the closing of the deal.
While speaking at the annual conference of the National Advertising Division on September 19, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced a generative AI (“AI”) policy that is consistent with Chairwoman Khan’s focus on the perceived harms to consumers from large technology companies, fully embracing a plan to regulate AI swiftly, aggressively, and proactively.
The agency began its remarks on AI by observing that its purported policy decision to allow technology companies to self-regulate during the “Web 2.0” era was a mistake. Self-regulation, according to the FTC, was a failure that ultimately resulted in the collection of too much power and too much data by a handful of large technology companies.
At the end of June 2023, the FTC proposed a new rule targeted at deceptive reviews in the marketplace. The proposed rule would prohibit advertisers and marketers from employing illicit review and endorsement practices such as using fake reviews, buying positive reviews, and suppressing negative reviews.
In explaining its motivation for the proposal, the Commission noted the widespread emergence of generative artificial intelligence (AI), which it fears could lead to a drastic increase in the prevalence of fake reviews. The FTC hopes to “level the playing field for honest companies” with this new rule.
On the heels of the historic proposed changes to the Hart-Scott-Rodino (“HSR”) merger review process, the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission released the 2023 Draft Merger Guidelines for public comment. The single set of guidelines will replace the former horizontal and vertical guidelines, becoming…
On June 29, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would dramatically expand HSR reporting requirements. The historic changes fundamentally alter the HSR reporting landscape, shifting to more of a “white paper” approach, similar to that of ex-U.S. jurisdictions like the EU. These modifications bring…