USA: FTC investigates investments by Google, Amazon and Microsoft in generative AI

The Federal Trade Commission 's (FTC) attention is focused on alliances between tech giants and generative AI companies. The American regulator has launched an investigation to look into the links, estimated in billions of dollars, between Google, Amazon and Microsoft on the one hand, and OpenAI and Anthropic on the other. The FTC, which monitors competition, said Thursday it wanted to “improve internal understanding” of the network of partnerships and investments that has developed in recent years between the three cloud giants – Google, Microsoft and Amazon – and start-ups. -up of generative AI. OpenAI and Anthropic.

Microsoft's $13 billion investment in OpenAI is in the spotlight

Among the best-known collaborations is Microsoft's $13 billion investment in OpenAI. This operation has attracted criticism for its opaque structure. However, Amazon and Google have announced billion-dollar investments in OpenAI rival Anthropic. The FTC is seeking information on how these relationships work, whether they pose anticompetitive risks, and what the partnerships' implications are in terms of decisions regarding new products, governance, or surveillance rights.

Cloud providers have established themselves as major players in the generative AI space, being among the few companies with the enormous financial and IT resources needed to develop and deploy the technology.

“History shows that new technologies can create new markets and healthy competition. As companies rush to develop and monetize AI, we must protect ourselves from tactics that exclude this opportunity,” said FTC Chair Lina Khan. “Our study will help determine whether investments and partnerships pursued by dominant companies risk distorting innovation and harming fair competition. »

Responses within 45 days

The five companies will have 45 days from receipt of the order to respond. The investigation highlights growing concerns among competition regulators about the speed with which tech giants and other investors are investing in the development of AI tools, and how these partnerships could shape the sector in the years to come.

Microsoft under antitrust scrutiny in the UK too

UK and EU competition regulators are also examining Microsoft's investment in OpenAI. After the UK regulator announced plans to investigate the alliance, OpenAI quietly changed the wording on its website regarding the deal. Rima Alaily, vice president of Microsoft's market competition and regulation group, said partnerships between companies like Microsoft and OpenAI "foster competition and accelerate innovation." We look forward to providing the FTC with the information it needs to complete its study.

Google said: "We hope the FTC's study will shine a light on companies that don't offer Google Cloud openness or have a long history of blocking customers - and that take the same approach to AI services. »

Amazon, OpenAI and Anthropic declined to comment.