On November 21, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) approved in a 3-0 vote a resolution authorizing the use of compulsory process in nonpublic investigations involving products and services that involve or claim to involve artificial intelligence (AI). 

Compulsory process is akin to a subpoena, and it allows the FTC to request the production of information, documents, or testimony relevant to an investigation.  The FTC reports that the omnibus resolution will streamline FTC staff’s ability to issue civil investigative demands (CID), while retaining the Commission’s authority to determine when demands are issued.  The resolution will be in effect for 10 years.

While the resolution will have a clear impact on companies that develop AI, it will also have an impact on all companies that offer products or services that involve or claim to involve AI.  Indeed, given the FTC’s prior warnings relating to misleading advertising about AI practices, it should be expected that the FTC will use compulsory process to investigate it. 

In any event, the resolution should also be seen as a general indication that the FTC plans to focus on regulating AI, and it will seek the investigative tools it deems necessary.  Companies should therefore ensure that they have the proper AI governance plans in place to assess and defend their practices.