Press Release

Welch, Luján Introduce Bill to Require Online Platforms Receive Consumers’ Consent Before Using Their Personal Data to Train AI Models 

Mar 19, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) introduced the Artificial Intelligence Consumer Opt-In, Notification Standards, and Ethical Norms for Training (AI CONSENT) Act, legislation that would require online platforms to obtain consumers’ express informed consent before using their personal data to train artificial intelligence (AI) models. Failure to do so would be considered a deceptive or unfair practice, subject to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforcement. The bill also directs the FTC to study the efficacy of data de-identification given advancements in AI tools. 

“The AI CONSENT Act gives a commonsense directive to artificial intelligence innovators: get the express consent of the public before using their private, personal data to train your AI models. The potential of AI is, without question, enormous—but it’s a tool that requires guardrails and transparency for the consumer. This legislation will help strengthen consumer protections and give Americans the power to determine how their data is used by online platforms. We cannot allow the public to be caught in the crossfire of a data arms race, which is why these privacy protections are so crucial,” said Senator Welch

“Personally identifiable information should not be used to train AI models without consent,” said Senator Luján. “The use of personal data by online platforms already pose great risks to our communities, and artificial intelligence increases the potential for misuse. That’s why I’m joining Senator Welch to introduce legislation that improves privacy protections for the American people and their data.” 

Specifically, the AI CONSENT Act directs the FTC to implement regulations to improve transparency by requiring companies disclose when an individual’s data will be used to train AI and receive consumer opt-in to this use. The AI CONSENT Act provides strong guidelines for these regulations, such as disclosure standards and what constitutes consumer consent. The bill would also commission an FTC report on the technical feasibility of de-identifying data given rapid advancements in AI technologies, evaluating potential measures companies could take to effectively de-identify user data. 

The AI CONSENT Act is endorsed by National Consumers League (NCL) and Public Citizen. 

“Consumers have a fundamental right to our own data,” said NCL Public Policy Manager Eden Iscil. “This includes the right to tell developers ‘no’ when they want train their AI by listening in on our video calls. The AI CONSENT Act would reflect this principle in federal law and marks a strong step forward in legalizing consumers’ digital privacy rights.”  

“Public Citizen is proud to offer our enthusiastic support for the AI CONSENT Act, an outstanding piece of legislation drafted by Senator Peter Welch and his staff. As an organization committed to protecting consumers’ rights and advocating for transparency in emerging technologies, we believe that the AI CONSENT Act provides answers to crucial privacy concerns surrounding the use of consumer data in training artificial intelligence systems within our rapidly evolving digital landscape.” 

Senator Welch has led efforts in the Senate to strengthen consumer protections and safety regulations regarding AI. In January, Senator Welch joined Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in writing to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to call for a new independent federal agency to oversee the tech sector following Schumer’s Senate AI Insight Forums, which underscored the need for a comprehensive approach to AI and the Big Tech companies currently dominating this sector. 

Last May, Senator Welch and Senator Bennet introduced the Digital Platform Commission Act, legislation to create an expert federal agency to provide comprehensive regulation of digital platforms to protect consumers, promote competition, and safeguard the public interest.  

Learn more about the bill. 

Read the full text of the bill.