Guide to AI Laws and Regulations in the U.S.

Guide to Laws and Regulations about AI (Artificial Intelligence) in the United States

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to shape our world, policymakers and regulators are grappling with how to govern this transformative technology. While the U.S. lacks comprehensive federal AI regulations, several key developments have taken place at both the federal and state levels.

These regulations are aimed at generative AI (gen AI), such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Google Gemini, as well as other forms of AI which use algorithms and machine learning for facial recognition or predict individual behavior.

How is artificial intelligence defined in the law?

The National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act defines artificial intelligence as “a machine-based system that can, for a given set of human-defined objectives, make predictions, recommendations, or decisions influencing real or virtual environments.”115 U.S.C. § 9411 (2021)

What are the federal regulations on AI?

Congress passed the National Initiative on Artificial Intelligence (NIAI) as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021. The NIAI does not impose specific regulations on AI, but seeks to coordinate the use of AI across federal agencies.

On October 30, 2023, President Biden signed an Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). This order outlines key principles and priorities for governing AI in the United States.

The policy emphasizes eight guiding principles and priorities:

  1. Safety and Security: AI systems must be safe, secure, and undergo robust evaluations before deployment. Addressing security risks is crucial, especially in areas like biotechnology, cybersecurity, and critical infrastructure.
  2. Transparency and Accountability: AI companies should provide transparency about how their models work. Standards for labeling AI-generated content will be established.
  3. Consumer Protections: Industry will develop safety and security standards, ensuring consumer rights and protections.
  4. Government Oversight: Federal agencies will oversee AI development, adhering to these principles.
  5. Civil Rights and Equity: The order emphasizes fairness, nondiscrimination, and equity in AI applications.
  6. Privacy and Data Protection: AI systems must respect privacy and protect personal data.
  7. International Cooperation: Collaboration with allies and partners is essential for global AI governance.
  8. Innovation and Competitiveness: The U.S. seeks to foster innovation while maintaining competitiveness.

Which federal agencies are involved in regulating AI?

Various federal agencies are engaged in AI governance, including the FTC, NIST, and CFPB.

  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC): The FTC focuses on consumer protection and privacy. Existing consumer protection laws apply to AI technologies, and the FTC actively monitors AI-related practices.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): NIST plays a crucial role in developing AI standards and guidelines.
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: This agency oversees financial services and products, including those involving AI.

Are there any state regulations on AI?

While there is no sweeping federal legislation specifically governing AI, some states have taken steps. Several states have privacy laws that may extend to AI systems processing personal data, such as facial recognition and autonomous vehicles.

In 2019, Illinois passed the Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act (“AIVIA”) aimed at regulating the use of AI by employers who conduct video interviews of applicants for positions based in Illinois. More recently, Colorado passed S.B. 169, which restricts insurers from using consumer data or predictive models in a way that unfairly discriminates against individuals based on protected grounds, such as race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Some states, including California, have laws that require chatbots to disclose that they are not human.

Is it considered copyright infringement for a gen AI to train on data or content without the consent of the owner of that data or content?

It may be considered fair use, and thus not infringing on copyrights of owners of content used by generative AI. However, this is currently being decided by the courts.

Can an AI receive a patent, or can a human inventor get a patent for an invention developed with assistance from AI?

See our Guide to Patent Law.

Are deepfakes illegal?

Deepfakes involve creating fake or altered videos, images, or recordings of people, often through the use of artificial intelligence. There are no federal laws in the US specifically about deepfakes, though a bill is being proposed.

The use or distribution of deepfakes may be illegal based on existing laws. It could be found as copyright infringement if someone else’s copyrighted material was used. It may be considered illegal defamation to create, post, or share deepfakes, if it portrays someone in a false light and harms their reputation.

However, it could also be considered legal “parody” protected under the 1st amendment, especially if it is done to a public official. This is a very new thing that the law has not yet resolved.

It is also illegal to use a deepfake for fraudulent purposes.

Further Resources


See our Guide to Laws About Technology

See our Guide to Laws for Consumers

Photo credit: Image by vector_corp on Freepik



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