Will The White House’s Artificial Intelligence “Bill of Rights” Protect Consumers from Big-Tech’s Advertising Abuses?

Will The White House’s Artificial Intelligence “Bill of Rights” Protect Consumers from Big-Tech’s Advertising Abuses?

Technology

The Biden administration just released a document that they believe should define the standards for responsible use of one of the more critical technologies that is set to define the future – Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The document, “The Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights: Making Automated Systems Work for the American People,” was released by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (WHOSTP). It lays out the five guiding principles that the WHOSTP feels should guide the “design, use, and deployment” of automated systems in order to protect Americans in the age of AI.

The Blueprint emphasizes creating safe and effective AI systems, providing algorithmic discrimination protections, data privacy, clarified notice and explanations of how AI may be used, and providing alternative options for consumers that choose to opt out.

This idea of governmental guidance in AI may seem innovative, but the truth is, at least 60 countries already have national AI protocols and the United States is merely playing catch-up at this point.

So as a result of lagging behind, the Big-Tech giants like Google, Microsoft and Facebook, are now using their AI data irresponsibly and consumers are suffering because of it.

This manifests itself in the extremely aggressive advertising models offered by the aforementioned companies, as they have placed a premium on profitability over consumer protection. Specifically, they are engaging in irresponsible and deceptive behaviors.

The ad networks that are affiliated with Big-Tech are notorious for corrupting the average consumer’s internet experience by bombarding them with misleading and confusing advertisements. Typical advertisements on download sites may be hidden as buttons, or pages may provide a plethora of advertisements disguised as clickable buttons that appear to serve a completely different purpose altogether.

For instance, Google’s ad network serves up ads that look like website actions, which generate lots of clicks and make lots of money for the websites who host them. Because the ads look like website actions (like download, or start quiz), the consumer thinks they’re taking an action that’s endorsed by the website, and they follow through the ad to the landing page, installing the software, which leads them to unintended purchases. They get cheated this way, all starting with the misleading ad.

That misleading was presented because Google’s AI was irresponsible: it measured the click effectiveness (how many times the ad got clicked when it was shown), and it measured the amount the advertiser was willing to pay per click. Because presumably no human is overseeing this process, ads masquerading as website actions get increasingly shown on these action-oriented sites (download software, take a quiz). These kinds of actions particularly exploit novice web users and the elderly.

Google’s ads on download and quiz/survey sites are pure unethical AI: humans know better, but their AI serves up the most tricky ads BECAUSE they get the most clicks. The consequences: consumers, especially the elderly, are surprised where they end up and tricked into downloading apps they didn’t want.

I went to softonic’s site in incognito mode and clicked on “VLC media player.” Can you tell the ad from the download button? Can an elderly person?

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Here’s the same thing on filehippo.com:

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And I went to holaquiz.com to take a quiz. I clicked on the first quiz (how well do your friends know you), and here’s what I got:

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These unfair ads are clear examples of irresponsible, unethical AI, and they’re great examples of what the White House’s AI Bill of Rights should be looking to curb.

Although these behaviors are more consistent with annoying applications that exist on the fringes of the malware world and are referred to as adware, which are programs that are notorious for spamming customers with unsolicited ads and are associated websites like pushyouworld.com and yt1s.com, surprisingly these practices are promoted and monetized by Big-Tech companies.

Consumer protection groups have now taken notice and have begun to take a stand on behalf of internet users against this kind of malicious online profiteering. One notable example is an organization known as AppEsteem. This organization has been leading the fight against unwanted software and unfair consumer practices online for the past six years. 

According to their President Dennis Batchelder, who once worked at Microsoft on their online security products, “Unfair ads lead less internet-savvy consumers into unwanted downloads and purchases. The Big-Tech companies who control how these misleading ads get shown need to show more respect to consumers. They’re polluting the web browsing experience, and we’re calling them out as a practical first step to get them to change.”

AppEsteem recently created a list of nine Ad Pollution Indicators and has called out thirty ad networks, including the likes of Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. By doing so, they look to bring awareness to the way that today’s automated online advertising is exploiting consumers.

Over the next several months, AppEsteem hopes to create a pressure campaign against BigTech’s unfair advertising practices by assembling an industry-wide coalition and developing their own software that protects consumers against ad pollution.

The internet is a dangerous enough place without Big-Tech enabling malicious behaviors. Hopefully by being called out, Big-Tech see the need to alter their practices in an effort to create a safer environment for all web surfers.

Julio is a business and political strategist, the Editorial Director for Reactionary Times, and a political commentator and columnist. Julio’s writing focuses on cybersecurity and politics. Websites including Newsmax, Townhall, American Thinker and BizPacReview have published Julio’s work.

Technology

Will The White House’s Artificial Intelligence “Bill of Rights” Protect Consumers from Big-Tech’s Advertising Abuses?