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Earlier this month, accompanying an update to a rule prohibiting the impersonation of businesses and governments, the FTC sought comments on extending the rule to prohibit impersonation of individuals. The agency indicated that it is considering expanding the rule as the result of rising complaints around “impersonation fraud,” especially those generated by AI. Comments are due by April 30, 2024.

As proposed, the rule would prohibit “materially and falsely” posing as another individual both expressly or by implication. Similarly prohibited would be false endorsements. Importantly for businesses seeking to develop products or platforms that incorporate AI, the rule would also prohibit providing goods or services that would be used to engage in these practices. FTC chair Lina Khan, along with two other commissioners, emphasized the importance of “extending liability to any actor that provides the ‘means and instrumentalities’ to commit an impersonation scam” in an accompanying statement to the proposed rule.

Putting It Into Practice: It took almost two years to amend the rule to address impersonation of business and governments. While it is possible that the proposed amendment will take just as long, this proposal signals the FTC’s concerns not only with those engaging in AI-created “deepfakes,” but also with companies that create products and services that make them possible. Even absent a rule amendment, it is possible that the FTC may bring action under its current Section V authority.