Technology

The field of artificial intelligence (“AI”) is at a tipping point. Governments and industries are under increasing pressure to forecast and guide the evolution of a technology that promises to transform our economies and societies. In this series, our lawyers and advisors provide an overview of the policy approaches and regulatory frameworks for AI in jurisdictions around the world. Given the rapid pace of technological and policy developments in this area, the articles in this series should be viewed as snapshots in time, reflecting the current policy environment and priorities in each jurisdiction.

The following article examines the state of play in AI policy and regulation in China. The previous articles in this series covered the European Union and the United States.

On the sidelines of November’s APEC meetings in San Francisco, Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping agreed that their nations should cooperate on the governance of artificial intelligence. Just weeks prior, President Xi unveiled China’s Global Artificial Intelligence Governance Initiative to world leaders, the nation’s bid to put its stamp on the global governance of AI. This announcement came a day after the Biden Administration revealed another round of restrictions on the export of advanced AI chips to China.

China is an AI superpower. Projections suggest that China’s AI market is on track to exceed US$14 billion this year, with ambitions to grow tenfold by 2030. Major Chinese tech companies have unveiled over twenty large language models (LLMs) to the public, and more than one hundred LLMs are fiercely competing in the market.

Understanding China’s capabilities and intentions in the realm of AI is crucial for policymakers in the U.S. and other countries to craft effective policies toward China, and for multinational companies to make informed business decisions. Irrespective of political differences, as an early mover in the realm of AI policy and regulation, China can serve as a repository of pioneering experiences for jurisdictions currently reflecting on their policy responses to this transformative technology.

This article aims to advance such understanding by outlining key features of China’s emerging approach toward AI.Continue Reading Spotlight Series on Global AI Policy — Part III: China’s Policy Approach to Artificial Intelligence

This quarterly update highlights key legislative, regulatory, and litigation developments in the fourth quarter of 2023 and early January 2024 related to technology issues.  These included developments related to artificial intelligence (“AI”), connected and automated vehicles (“CAVs”), data privacy, and cybersecurity.  As noted below, some of these developments provide companies with the opportunity for participation and comment.

I. Artificial Intelligence

Federal Executive Developments on AI

The Executive Branch and U.S. federal agencies had an active quarter, which included the White House’s October 2023 release of the Executive Order (“EO”) on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence.  The EO declares a host of new actions for federal agencies designed to set standards for AI safety and security; protect Americans’ privacy; advance equity and civil rights; protect vulnerable groups such as consumers, patients, and students; support workers; promote innovation and competition; advance American leadership abroad; and effectively regulate the use of AI in government.  The EO builds on the White House’s prior work surrounding the development of responsible AI.  Concerning privacy, the EO sets forth a number of requirements for the use of personal data for AI systems, including the prioritization of federal support for privacy-preserving techniques and strengthening privacy-preserving research and technologies (e.g., cryptographic tools).  Regarding equity and civil rights, the EO calls for clear guidance to landlords, Federal benefits programs, and Federal contractors to keep AI systems from being used to exacerbate discrimination.  The EO also sets out requirements for developers of AI systems, including requiring companies developing any foundation model “that poses a serious risk to national security, national economic security, or national public health and safety” to notify the federal government when training the model and provide results of all red-team safety tests to the government.

Federal Legislative Activity on AI

Congress continued to evaluate AI legislation and proposed a number of AI bills, though none of these bills are expected to progress in the immediate future.  For example, members of Congress continued to hold meetings on AI and introduced bills related to deepfakes, AI research, and transparency for foundational models.

  • Deepfakes and Inauthentic Content:  In October 2023, a group of bipartisan senators released a discussion draft of the NO FAKES Act, which would prohibit persons or companies from producing an unauthorized digital replica of an individual in a performance or hosting unauthorized digital replicas if the platform has knowledge that the replica was not authorized by the individual depicted. 
  • Research:  In November 2023, Senator Thune (R-SD), along with five bipartisan co-sponsors, introduced the Artificial Intelligence Research, Innovation, and Accountability Act (S. 3312), which would require covered internet platforms that operate generative AI systems to provide their users with clear and conspicuous notice that the covered internet platform uses generative AI. 
  • Transparency for Foundational Models:  In December 2023, Representative Beyer (D-VA-8) introduced the AI Foundation Model Act (H.R. 6881), which would direct the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to establish transparency standards for foundation model deployers in consultation with other agencies.  The standards would require companies to provide consumers and the FTC with information on a model’s training data and mechanisms, as well as information regarding whether user data is collected in inference.
  • Bipartisan Senate Forums:  Senator Schumer’s (D-NY) AI Insight Forums, which are a part of his SAFE Innovation Framework, continued to take place this quarter.  As part of these forums, bipartisan groups of senators met multiple times to learn more about key issues in AI policy, including privacy and liability, long-term risks of AI, and national security.

Continue Reading U.S. Tech Legislative, Regulatory & Litigation Update – Fourth Quarter 2023

Technology companies are grappling with unprecedented changes that promise to accelerate exponentially in the challenging period ahead. We invite you to join Covington experts and invited presenters from around the world to explore the key issues faced by businesses developing or deploying cutting-edge technologies. These highly concentrated sessions are packed with immediately actionable advice. Each

The Federal Trade Commission’s (“FTC”) Office of Technology announced that it will hold a half-day virtual “FTC Tech Summit” on January 25, 2024 to address key developments in the field of artificial intelligence (“AI”).

The FTC’s event website notes that the Summit will “bring together a diverse set of perspectives across academia, industry, civil society

In late December 2023, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) published a Report and Order (“Order”) expanding the scope of the data breach notification rules (“Rules”) applicable to telecommunications carriers and interconnected VoIP (“iVoIP”) providers.  The Order makes several notable changes to the prior rules, including broadening the definitions of a reportable “breach” and “covered data,”

Only one claim survived dismissal in a recent putative class action lawsuit alleging that a pathology laboratory failed to safeguard patient data in a cyberattack.  See Order Granting Motion to Dismiss in Part, Thai v. Molecular Pathology Laboratory Network, Inc., No. 3:22-CV-315-KAC-DCP (E.D. Tenn. Sep. 29, 2023), ECF 38.

In December 2021, plaintiffs allege

On September 6, 2023, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, published a white paper addressing artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential benefits and risks in the workplace, as well as in the health care  context, which we discuss here.

The whitepaper notes that employers

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) officially dipped its toes into the ongoing national debate around artificial intelligence (AI) regulation, publishing a Federal Register notice seeking comment on a petition submitted by Public Citizen to initiate a rulemaking to clarify that the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) prohibits deceptive AI-generated campaign advertisements.  The Commission unanimously approved

This quarterly update summarizes key legislative and regulatory developments in the second quarter of 2023 related to key technologies and related topics, including Artificial Intelligence (“AI”), the Internet of Things (“IoT”), connected and automated vehicles (“CAVs”), data privacy and cybersecurity, and online teen safety.

Artificial Intelligence

AI continued to be an area of significant interest of both lawmakers and regulators throughout the second quarter of 2023.  Members of Congress continue to grapple with ways to address risks posed by AI and have held hearings, made public statements, and introduced legislation to regulate AI.  Notably, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) revealed his “SAFE Innovation framework” for AI legislation.  The framework reflects five principles for AI – security, accountability, foundations, explainability, and innovation – and is summarized here.  There were also a number of AI legislative proposals introduced this quarter.  Some proposals, like the National AI Commission Act (H.R. 4223) and Digital Platform Commission Act (S. 1671), propose the creation of an agency or commission to review and regulate AI tools and systems.  Other proposals focus on mandating disclosures of AI systems.  For example, the AI Disclosure Act of 2023 (H.R. 3831) would require generative AI systems to include a specific disclaimer on any outputs generated, and the REAL Political Advertisements Act (S. 1596) would require political advertisements to include a statement within the contents of the advertisement if generative AI was used to generate any image or video footage.  Additionally, Congress convened hearings to explore AI regulation this quarter, including a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing in May titled “Oversight of A.I.: Rules for Artificial Intelligence.”

There also were several federal Executive Branch and regulatory developments focused on AI in the second quarter of 2023, including, for example:

  • White House:  The White House issued a number of updates on AI this quarter, including the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s strategic plan focused on federal AI research and development, discussed in greater detail here.  The White House also requested comments on the use of automated tools in the workplace, including a request for feedback on tools to surveil, monitor, evaluate, and manage workers, described here.
  • CFPB:  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) issued a spotlight on the adoption and use of chatbots by financial institutions.
  • FTC:  The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) continued to issue guidance on AI, such as guidance expressing the FTC’s view that dark patterns extend to AI, that generative AI poses competition concerns, and that tools claiming to spot AI-generated content must make accurate disclosures of their abilities and limitations.
  • HHS Office of National Coordinator for Health IT:  This quarter, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) released a proposed rule related to certified health IT that enables or interfaces with “predictive decision support interventions” (“DSIs”) that incorporate AI and machine learning technologies.  The proposed rule would require the disclosure of certain information about predictive DSIs to enable users to evaluate DSI quality and whether and how to rely on the DSI recommendations, including a description of the development and validation of the DSI.  Developers of certified health IT would also be required to implement risk management practices for predictive DSIs and make summary information about these practices publicly available.

Continue Reading U.S. Tech Legislative & Regulatory Update – Second Quarter 2023

On June 29, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) posted a blog to its website expressing concerns about the recent rise of generative artificial intelligence (“generative AI”). To get ahead of this rapidly developing technology, the FTC identified “the essential building blocks” of generative AI and highlighted some business practices the agency would consider “unfair methods of competition.” The FTC also underscored technological aspects unique to generative AI that could raise competition concerns.

What is Generative AI?

Traditional AI has existed in the marketplace for years and largely assisted users in analyzing or manipulating existing data.  Generative AI, on the other hand, represents a significant advance with its ability to generate entirely new text, images, audio, and video. The FTC notes that this content is frequently “indistinguishable from content crafted directly by humans.”

What are the “essential building blocks” of generative AI?

The FTC identified three “essential building blocks” that companies need to develop generative AI. Without fair access to the necessary inputs, the FTC warns that competition and the ability for new players to enter the market will suffer.

  • Data. Generative AI models require access to vast amounts of data, particularly in the early phases where models build up a robust competency in a specific domain (for example, text or images). Market incumbents may possess an inherent advantage because of access to data collected over many years. The FTC notes that while “simply having large amounts of data is not unlawful,” creating undue barriers to access that data may be considered unfair competition.

Continue Reading The Federal Trade Commission and Generative AI Competition Concerns