FTC signals ban on Meta monetizing kids' data, stricter AI rules

The U.S. regulator has targeted ChatGPT-like AI and Facebook ahead of a White House meeting with tech businesses on Thursday to discuss potential risks. 
Baba Tamim
Left: Portrait of Meta owner Mark Zuckerberg. Right:  Portrait of US FTC Chair Lina Khan.
Left: Portrait of Meta owner Mark Zuckerberg. Right: Portrait of US FTC Chair Lina Khan.

Wikimedia Commons 

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken steps to address Facebook's privacy abuses by proposing new charges against Meta, Facebook's parent corporation. 

Mark Zuckerberg's Meta allegedly violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) by misrepresenting parental controls in its Messenger Kids app and breaking a privacy order from 2020, the U.S. regulator announced on Wednesday. 

"The Commission is ordering Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly Facebook) to show cause why the Commission should not modify its 2020 Order and enter a new proposed order based on Facebook's record," among other things, FTC Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya said in the statement.

The record "of alleged law violations and its independent assessor's findings that Facebook has not complied with the requirements of its privacy program." 

Under the proposed rules, Meta, which includes services such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus, would be barred from selling data from users under 18. 

The FTC wants to make sure that any information gathered from users under the age of 18 is only utilized for security purposes and cannot afterward be commercialized once they turn 18. 

Additionally, users would need to give their consent in order for facial recognition technology to be used in the future. 

Furthermore, until Meta's privacy program is deemed fully compliant with the terms of the agreement, Meta's ability to release new or modified products may be suspended as part of the proposed restrictions. 

Compliance would also apply to any businesses that Meta might purchase or combine with.

Meanwhile, the U.S. regulator has targeted ChatGPT-like artificial intelligence (AI) ahead of a White House meeting with tech businesses on Thursday to discuss potential risks and privacy concerns.

FTC chair on privacy concern over AI 

FTC Chair Lina Khan outlined her commitment to regulating the developing field of AI in a thought-provoking op-ed that appeared in The New York Times

Despite its novelty, Chair Khan emphasized that AI is subject to current laws, and the FTC will zealously uphold the regulations it is tasked with enforcing.

"Although these tools are novel, they are not exempt from existing rules," Khan wrote in the op-ed. "The FTC will vigorously enforce the laws we are charged with administering, even in this new market."

Khan compared the current AI period to the mid-2000s tech revolution, emphasizing the need to avoid making the same mistakes of concentrated power and compromising privacy and security. 

She emphasized the FTC's dedication to enforcing fair competition, safeguarding data privacy, protecting consumers from fraudulent behaviors made possible by AI, and opposing discriminatory practices supported by AI systems.

Khan was adamant that the FTC has the authority under the law to confront the problems brought on by the quick development of the AI industry, including collusion, monopolization, mergers, price discrimination, and unfair business practices. 

By using this power, the FTC seeks to strike a balance between encouraging innovation and defending people's and society's interests.

"The FTC is well equipped with legal jurisdiction to handle the issues brought to the fore by the rapidly developing AI sector," said Chair Khan.

U.S. concerns over privacy violations, fair competition, and consumer protection in the digital age are growing, as evidenced by the FTC's proposed actions against Meta and Chair Khan's commitment to regulating AI.

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