Google fined $270 million, in part for how it trained its AI

Google is facing a $270 million fine, in part over how it used content from news outlets in France to train its AI, Bard.
Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images
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  • Google was fined on Wednesday, in part for how it trained its AI.
  • French regulators imposed a €250 million (about $270 million) fine against the tech giant.
  • The watchdog said Google broke a covenant after using content from news outlets to train Bard, now called Gemini.

Google was fined nearly $270 million on Wednesday over how it trained its AI.

French regulators say Google backtracked on its commitments to negotiate agreements with news outlets in France for its content. The watchdog alleged that Google used journalists’ content to teach its AI chatbot Bard – now named Gemini – without telling them.

Google promised in the previous settlement to “negotiate in good faith based on transparent, objective and non-discriminatory criteria,” which regulators called “Commitment 1.”

Regulators said there are still legal questions about using news content to train AI models, but “at least, Autorité It considers that Google violates Commitment 1 by failing to notify publishers of the use of their content for the Bard software.”

Regulators also said Google failed to cooperate with a monitoring trustee installed as part of a previous settlement, did not negotiate in good faith, and did not provide full revenue information to negotiating parties.

French regulators said the California-based company was fined 250 million euros for the listed violations and did not dispute the facts.

In a statement released Wednesday, Google said the fine was “not appropriate” to the allegations.

Google said it agreed to pay because it was “time to move on.”

In its statement, Google said it is focused on the “broader goal of engaging people with quality content and a sustainable approach to working constructively with French publishers.”

“Over the past few years, we’ve been open to addressing the concerns of publishers or the FCA and continue to do so today,” Google wrote. “But now is the time for greater clarity about who we should pay and how, so that all parties can plot a course toward a more sustainable business environment.”

How tech companies train their chatbots remains a hot topic — and one that’s already been litigated in court.

In 2022, a UK regulator fined AI company Clearview nearly $9 million over how it scraped biometric data for facial recognition. But the fine was overturned on appeal by the UK’s General Regulatory Chamber tribunal a year later.

The New York Times sued OpenAI late last year over its ChatGPT bot, alleging that the AI ​​firm broke the law by using its content to teach a large language model. OpenAI has asked a judge to dismiss at least parts of the lawsuit, alleging that the Times hired someone to “hack” its platform, which the company denies. .

Meanwhile, some publishers (including Axel Springer, Business Insider’s parent company) have made deals with companies like ChatGPT to use their content.

Correction 20 March 2024: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that this was the first time a company had been fined in connection with its AI training. In 2022, Clearview was fined by UK regulators for scraping biometric data. The fine was later quashed on appeal.

On February 28, Business Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer, joined 31 other media groups in filing a $2.3 billion lawsuit against Google in a Dutch court, alleging damages caused by the company’s advertising practices.

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