ChatGPT Maker OpenAI Faces FTC Probe Over Risks to Consumers, Report Says

The agency is reportedly seeking information on "false, misleading, or disparaging" statements the AI chatbot has made about people.

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The US Federal Trade Commission has reportedly launched an investigation into whether OpenAI, the company behind popular AI chatbot ChatGPT, has violated consumer protection laws. 

The FTC sent OpenAI a 20-page request for documents covering concerns related to data privacy and reputational harm, according to a report Thursday from The Washington Post. The agency also asked for details on OpenAI's large language model, the technology behind its generative AI chatbot, including all sources used to train the model and how data was obtained, according to the request, which was shared by the Post. 

CNET hasn't independently verified the request. The FTC declined to comment. 

Artificial intelligence technologies have been around for years, but the field has advanced rapidly and begun to seep into everyday life. OpenAI released ChatGPT late last year, kicking off a plethora of generative AI products from Microsoft, Google, Adobe and others. 

With prompts, modern chatbots can produce email responses, travel itineraries and even poetry, among other things, though quality varies. Chatbots, however, are prone to spitting out incorrect answers and sometimes sources that don't exist, also known as hallucinations

The FTC asked OpenAI for information on steps it's taken to reduce hallucinations as well as details on any complaints received about ChatGPT making "false, misleading, disparaging or harmful statements" about people, according to the request shared by the Post. OpenAI is facing a defamation suit over ChatGPT allegedly making up legal claims against a Georgia radio talk show host.

In a statement posted to Twitter, OpenAI Sam Altman said "it's super important to us that out technology is safe and pro-consumer." He added that OpenAI is "confident we follow the law," but will work with the FTC. 

"We protect user privacy and design our systems to learn about the world, not private individuals," Altman said. 

The FTC also reportedly asked for the number of people impacted in March by a bug that exposed some personal data of ChatGPT Plus subscribers, including payment information. At the time, OpenAI said the number of people whose data was revealed was "extremely low."

For more on artificial intelligence, check out CNET's comparison of AI chatbots and see how AI is impacting hiring.

Editors' note: CNET is using an AI engine to help create some stories. For more, see this post.