As public enthusiasm grows around AI tools like Google's new Bard chatbot, scammers are moving quickly to exploit interest in the emerging technology. Google is fighting back, filing lawsuits today targeting two distinct threats: AI scammers spreading malware and competitors abusing copyright law to remove rival websites.
Through these lawsuits, Google aims to protect consumers, set critical legal precedents around AI and copyright, and deter future misconduct in these high-tech realms.
"We hope our lawsuits will not only put an end to this activity, but also deter others and raise awareness of the harm that fraudulent takedowns can have on small businesses across the country," said Halimah DeLaine Prado, Google's General Counsel, in a company blog post.
The first lawsuit targets fraudsters who capitalized on the hype around AI by tricking users into downloading malware. As Google was preparing to launch Bard, an AI chatbot meant to rival OpenAI's viral ChatGPT, scammers created fake social media profiles posing as Bard. These pages encouraged people to "download" Bard, which is a cloud-based tool requiring no download.
Instead, clicking the links led users to malware that could compromise social media accounts. Google said the scammers set up domains specifically to perpetrate this fraud. Since April, it has filed about 300 takedown requests to shut down the scam sites, with limited success.
The lawsuit seeks to more aggressively disrupt the operation by obtaining a court order to disable the domains through U.S. registrars.
"For the latest scams, lawsuits are an effective tool for establishing a legal precedent, disrupting the tools used by scammers, and raising the consequences for bad actors," said Prado.
Google's second lawsuit aims squarely at competitors abusing copyright law to undermine rivals. The company targets a group submitting thousands of fraudulent Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices.
The DMCA allows creators to protect intellectual property online through a streamlined takedown process. Internet companies like Google must promptly comply with legitimate notices. However, the lawsuit contends the defendants exploited the system by inundating Google with bogus claims against their competitors.
This resulted in the removal of over 100,000 websites, costing small businesses millions in lost revenue and employee time. The lawsuit seeks to identify and stop the perpetrators, while sending a warning to others considering similar tactics.
"We hope our lawsuit will not only put an end to this activity, but also deter others and raise awareness of the harm that fraudulent takedowns can have on small businesses across the country," said Prado.
The case highlights the tightrope tech companies like Google must walk in balancing copyright enforcement, free speech, and fair competition. It also underscores calls for DMCA reform to deter abuses.
Through these two lawsuits, Google aims to immediately halt specific criminal acts while establishing precedents to deter future misconduct targeting AI users and small businesses.
Litigation can establish legal guardrails and raise the risk for tech-savvy bad actors. For Google, the lawsuits represent one prong of an aggressive enforcement strategy combining takedowns, blocking techniques, and cooperation with authorities.
"Today's actions are part of our ongoing legal strategy to protect consumers and small businesses, and establish needed legal precedents in emerging fields of innovation," concluded Prado.