France’s competition regulator imposed a hefty fine of 250 million euros (£213 million) on Google, citing the tech giant’s AI training practices without obtaining consent from media entities.

The fine was levied against Google for its use of news content to train its AI model Bard, later rebranded as Gemini, without seeking permission from press agencies and publishers. France’s competition watchdog criticised Google for failing to provide a technical opt-out solution for publishers, hindering their ability to negotiate fair compensation.

Settlement Agreement

As part of a settlement agreement, Google has accepted the facts presented by the regulatory authority and has pledged not to contest them. The authority emphasised the need for AI companies to engage in transparent and objective negotiations with media organisations, especially concerning the use of their content for training AI models.

Google, while acknowledging the settlement, expressed dissatisfaction with the proportionality of the fine, citing challenges in navigating regulatory uncertainty. The tech giant highlighted the need for clearer regulatory guidance from France’s regulatory bodies to facilitate compliance with copyright laws and related regulations.

“It’s important to note that the fine is not proportionate to issues raised by the FCA,” Google said in a statement. “It also doesn’t sufficiently take into account the efforts we have made to answer and resolve the concerns raised in an environment where it’s very hard to set a course because we can’t predict which way the wind will blow next.”

This fine is linked to a copyright case initiated in 2020, signalling heightened scrutiny of tech companies’ AI practices by regulatory authorities. Moving forward, greater transparency and adherence to regulatory standards are expected to shape the use of AI technologies in compliance with legal requirements and industry best practices.

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