The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are reportedly attempting to determine which agency should oversee an antitrust investigation of ChatGPT developer OpenAI and its relationship with Microsoft.
The two federal agencies have been in talks for months about which of them should review the matter, according to Politico. Neither agency appears keen to release their jurisdiction over the matter, people involved in the matter claim, a point of tension that would need to be resolved before either can investigate Microsoft’s $10 billion investment in the artificial intelligence developer. The potential inquiry would be a step forward for FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan and DOJ Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, who both are advocates for breaking up Big Tech companies.
The discussions are limited to Microsoft and OpenAI’s relationship, the people involved said, but the details could open into a more extensive discussion of which agency should handle matters related to AI as a whole.
“Under Lina Khan, the FTC works in harmony with the AAG Kanter and our DOJ colleagues to vigorously enforce the antitrust laws,” FTC spokesman Douglas Farrar told the Washington Examiner. “Our joint clearance process with the DOJ is seamless, letting both agencies effectively use their resources to protect American consumers from higher prices and unfair competition.”
The DOJ did not respond to requests for comment from the Washington Examiner.
The FTC and the U.K.-based Competitions and Markets Authority initiated preliminary investigations into the $10 billion investment in December, according to staffers.
Microsoft’s investment in OpenAI has been notably successful, allowing the software giant to add the innovative chatbot to several services, including Bing, CoPilot, and the web browser Edge.
The FTC is already investigating OpenAI over allegations that its product had violated consumer protection laws by placing personal reputations and data at risk. Enforcers and regulators “need to be vigilant early” when it comes to AI, Khan has said.
Kanter and Khan are both advocates for the “hipster antitrust” movement, which abandons the consumer welfare standard that guided U.S. antitrust policy for decades in favor of a much more skeptical approach that also considers other factors, such as corporate concentration and income inequality.