Marketer’s Guide to the AI Executive Order: Privacy, Safety and Authenticity
- Privacy emphasis. The executive order highlights the importance of data privacy, urging for federal legislation, which may reshape how customer data is managed in marketing.
- AI safety standards. Proposed standards for AI safety and security could lead to industrywide practices affecting AI use in marketing analytics and customer engagement.
- Authentic content identification. The directive to establish standards for detecting AI-generated content and authenticating official content could impact digital marketing strategies amidst the rise of deepfakes.
The US government’s executive order on artificial intelligence released today underpins a range of implications for customer experience and marketing leaders, particularly around the directives protecting Americans’ data privacy in an era where data fuels personalized customer experiences and marketing strategies.
According to the White House, the executive order establishes new standards for AI safety and security, protects Americans’ privacy, advances equity and civil rights, stands up for consumers and workers, promotes innovation and competition and advances American leadership around the world.
However, don’t start crafting marketing and customer experience data-privacy strategies based on this order just yet. Most of this is what the White House orders the country to do regarding establishing artificial intelligence safeguards and development frameworks. In other words, these include directives that need to play out and won’t take immediate effect until federal agencies carry them out and in some cases Congress approves laws.
In the order, US President Joseph Biden merely calls on Congress to pass data privacy legislation, something the United States hasn’t done on a sweeping, federal level despite pleas for action. In 2022, in response to increased awareness of consumer privacy, Congress introduced the American Data Privacy Protection Act (ADPPA), but that hasn’t had any action since the Committee on Energy and Commerce amended the Act Dec. 30, 2022.
The US government has been busy with AI in the past year. The AI order news comes about a year after the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), as part of an effort to inspire companies to create and implement ethically responsible AI and protect public rights in the digital age, released a set of guidelines intended to serve as a guide for the design, use and deployment of automated systems.
The US is also working with global powers on AI standards.
Push for Federal Data Privacy Protection: What Else Is New?
According to White House officials, AI not only makes it easier to extract, identify and exploit personal data, but it also heightens incentives to do so because companies use data to train AI systems. President Biden in the order issued today urges Congress to pass bipartisan data privacy legislation to “protect all Americans, especially kids,” and directs the following actions:
- Prioritize federal support for accelerating the development and use of privacy-preserving techniques, including ones that use cutting-edge AI and that let AI systems be trained while preserving the privacy of the training data.
- Strengthen privacy-preserving research and technologies, such as cryptographic tools that preserve individuals’ privacy, by funding a Research Coordination Network to advance rapid breakthroughs and development. The National Science Foundation will also work with this network to promote the adoption of leading-edge, privacy-preserving technologies by federal agencies.
- Evaluate how agencies collect and use commercially available information, including information they procure from data brokers, and strengthen privacy guidance for federal agencies to account for AI risks. This work will focus in particular on commercially available information containing personally identifiable data.
- Develop guidelines for federal agencies to evaluate the effectiveness of privacy-preserving techniques, including those used in AI systems. These guidelines will advance agency efforts to protect Americans’ data.
Privacy is a paramount concern for customers, and the executive order’s emphasis on privacy-preserving techniques and guidelines could necessitate changes in how customer data is handled, analyzed and stored. The call for bipartisan data privacy legislation could potentially lead to new regulatory frameworks that impact how customer data is managed and used for marketing purposes.
According to the State of Digital Customer Experience 2023 report by CMSWire, legislation such as the EU’s General Data Privacy Regulation(GDPR) and other acts like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have had a significant impact on the mindset of both customers and marketing teams when it comes to protecting data.
In the prior CMSWire survey, the regulatory climate but also customer sentiment toward safeguarding personal data meant that “a culture of data protection continues to grow across DCX (digital customer experience) teams.”The most recent findings indicated a similar commitment to data protection with 47% declaring it “extremely important” and committing to leading in this area, representing a modest 1% rise on last year. A further 32% expressed that data protection is “very important,” although this is down 5% on the results for 2021. Overall, only 2% of organizations said it was not important.
Related Article: 6 Ways to Balance Customer Data Security and CX
New Standards for AI Safety and Security
The order also includes protections against the risk of AI systems, which could potentially lead to industrywide standards that may affect how AI is utilized in marketing analytics, customer engagement and other customer-facing applications. An emphasis on detecting AI-generated content and authenticating official content could have implications for digital marketing strategies, especially in the era of deepfakes and misinformation.
Particularly interesting for marketers and customer experience professionals is the call to establish standards and best practices for detecting AI-generated content and authenticating official content. “The Department of Commerce will develop guidance for content authentication and watermarking to clearly label AI-generated content,” according to the order. “Federal agencies will use these tools to make it easy for Americans to know that the communications they receive from their government are authentic — and set an example for the private sector and governments around the world.”
In addition, the order:
- Requires developers of the “most powerful AI systems” share their safety test results and other critical information with the US government. In accordance with the Defense Production Act, the order will require that companies developing any foundation model that poses a serious risk to national security, national economic security or national public health and safety must notify the federal government when training the model, and must share the results of all red-team safety tests.
- Directs NIST to develop standards, tools and tests to help ensure that AI systems are safe, secure and trustworthy. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will set the rigorous standards for extensive red-team testing to ensure safety before public release. The Department of Homeland Security will apply those standards to critical infrastructure sectors and establish the AI Safety and Security Board. The Departments of Energy and Homeland Security will also address AI systems’ threats to critical infrastructure, as well as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and cybersecurity risks.
- Directs officials to develop strong new standards for biological synthesis screening.
- Calls for an advanced cybersecurity program to develop AI tools to find and fix vulnerabilities in critical software. This builds on the Biden-Harris administration’s ongoing AI Cyber Challenge.
- Calls for the development of a National Security Memorandum that directs further actions on AI and security. This is to be developed by the National Security Council and White House Chief of Staff. This document will ensure that the United States military and intelligence community use AI safely, ethically and effectively in their missions, and will direct actions to counter adversaries’ military use of AI.
Related Article: Safeguard Generative AI to Protect Consumer Privacy
Conclusion: Privacy, AI Safety Top Focus for Customer Experience, Marketing
The order also includes establishing AI principles and safeguards in these arenas:
- Advancing equity and civil rights
- Standing up for consumers, patients and students
- Promoting innovation and competition
- Advancing American leadership abroad
- Ensuring responsible and effective government use of AI
- Supporting workers
“The actions that President Biden directed today are vital steps forward in the U.S.’s approach on safe, secure, and trustworthy AI,” White House officials wrote. “More action will be required, and the Administration will continue to work with Congress to pursue bipartisan legislation to help America lead the way in responsible innovation.”
Overall, the executive order issued today reflects a broader shift toward responsible AI innovation, which is likely to impact how marketing and customer experience leaders plan and execute their strategies. Adhering to new standards, especially around privacy and AI safety, will be crucial for maintaining trust and delivering value to customers. Moreover, the anticipated innovations in AI could provide new tools and insights for enhancing customer experiences and driving marketing effectiveness.