FTC GenAI Probe Hits Google, Amazon, OpenAI, Microsoft and Anthropic

The federal watchdog agency is asking for information regarding generative AI investments and partnerships.

Shane Snider , Senior Writer, InformationWeek

January 25, 2024

1 Min Read
ChatGPT authentic screen seen on smartphone and FTC Federal Trade Commission logo on the background.
Ascannio via Alamy Stock

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Thursday announced that it ordered five major US tech companies to provide information on recent investments and partnerships involving generative AI (GenAI) companies and major cloud service providers.

The agency says its probe will focus on corporate partnerships and investments with AI providers to “build a better internal understanding of these relationships” and their impact on competition. The orders were sent to Alphabet (parent of Google), Amazon, Anthropic, Microsoft, and OpenAI.

The companies in question have poured billions of dollars into GenAI in recent years. Microsoft has committed more than $10 billion to OpenAI, creator of juggernaut ChatGPT.

“History shows that new technologies can create new markets and healthy competition,” FTC Chair Lina M. Khan said in a statement. “Our study will shed light on whether investments and partnerships pursued by dominant companies risk distorting innovation and undermining fair competition.”

FTC issued the orders under the FTC Act, which authorizes studies that allow enforcers to examine market trends and business practices.

The FTC says it is specifically focusing on several areas in the probe, including information about specific investments and partnerships, analysis of competitive impact of these partnerships and investments, competitive dynamics around key GenAI products and services, and information provided to foreign government entities in connection with the same topics.

The companies will have 45 days to respond.

"We hope the FTC's study will shine a bright light on companies that don't offer the openness of Google Cloud or have a long history of locking-in customers -- and who are bringing that same approach to AI services," a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

An OpenAI spokesperson said the company did not have any comment on the matter.

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About the Author(s)

Shane Snider

Senior Writer, InformationWeek, InformationWeek

Shane Snider is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of industry experience. He started his career as a general assignment reporter and has covered government, business, education, technology and much more. He was a reporter for the Triangle Business Journal, Raleigh News and Observer and most recently a tech reporter for CRN. He was also a top wedding photographer for many years, traveling across the country and around the world. He lives in Raleigh with his wife and two children.

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