Regulation agencies across globe issue technologist statement on building digital capacity

Twenty-four agencies from around the world signed a statement on boosting enforcement through increased technical capacity and expertise.

A group of 24 agencies from around the world has released a joint action statement on tech capacity. The initiative comes after digital markets and technologist team members from competition and consumer protection authorities participated in the International Competition Network’s (ICN) Technologist Forum.

The agencies include the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and non-US agencies such as the Directorate-General for Competition, European Commission, the UK Competition and Markets Authority and the Bundeskartellamt in Germany. They convened with the goals of sharing experiences and promoting increasing digital and technology capacity within their regulatory and enforcement remits, they said.

It was the first ICN global meeting of technologists from competition and consumer protection agencies, and the event was hosted by the FTC.

Consumer rights

The agencies stated in their respective press releases that the their actions reflect an intention to increase tech capacity, including actively hiring technologists who will be engaged in supervisory examinations, enforcement investigations, and other regulatory proceedings.

As the CFPB noted in its agency statement, these technologists are assessing a range of business practices, including examining the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence in lending, ascertaining compliance with federal law, and identifying deceptive dark patterns.

Amid the wave of attention on generative AI, the CFPB said its technologists are working in interdisciplinary teams across the Bureau to help ensure the rights of consumers are not being violated. “This includes helping to identify emerging technology developments, spot potential issues, and where appropriate, help enforce the law and develop lasting remedies,” the agency said.

“From cracking down on data abuses and shoddy AI to tracking Big Tech’s movement into financial services, technology is fundamental to the CFPB’s work,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “Our technologists help the agency enforce existing laws and track emerging risks to consumers to ensure that American families are protected through whatever technological changes the market encounters.”

Strengthen enforcement efforts

The FTC pointedly tied the initiative to better assessing the “behavior of companies” that are using AI and other technologies – seeking a better understanding of the potential benefits and risks of technology to make those determinations.

Alluding to their important mandate in the US markets, the FTC said in its release that it will use the program to better detect anticompetitive conduct and foster innovation, targeting unlawful practices before they are widely adopted. 

The participating agencies recognize the need to strengthen enforcement efforts through increased technical capacity and expertise, their statement said. 

“Our technologists help the agency enforce existing laws and track emerging risks to consumers to ensure that American families are protected through whatever technological changes the market encounters.”

Rohit Chopra, Director, CFPB

The agencies will integrate their technical expertise, tools, and methods to strengthen law enforcement that aims to protect consumers and competition by detecting misconduct, conducting more efficient, rigorous, and faster investigations, and reducing information asymmetries.

This means new employee profiles will be integrated into agencies. This will include technologists, software and hardware engineers, product managers, UX designers, data scientists, investigative researchers, and subject matter experts in areas such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, and augmented and virtual reality.

Participating agencies

The participating agencies include: 

  1. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Australia
  2. Federal Competition Authority, Austria
  3. Competition Bureau, Canada
  4. Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica, Brazil
  5. Directorate-General for Competition, European Commission
  6. Autorité de la concurrence, France
  7. Bundeskartellamt, Germany
  8. Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, Italy
  9. Japan Fair Trade Commission, Japan
  10. Competition Authority of Kenya, Kenya
  11. Malaysia Competition Commission, Malaysia
  12. Comisión Federal de Competencia Económica, Mexico
  13. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets, Netherlands
  14. Norwegian Competition Authority, Norway
  15. Autoridade da Concorrência, Portugal
  16. Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore, Singapore
  17. Competition Commission of South Africa, South Africa
  18. Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia, Spain
  19. Swedish Competition Authority, Sweden
  20. Competition Commission, Switzerland
  21. Turkish Competition Authority, Turkey
  22. UK Competition and Markets Authority
  23. US Department of Justice, Antitrust Division
  24. US Federal Trade Commission