Hawley, Blumenthal unveil bipartisan AI framework

Two senators released a bipartisan framework for artificial intelligence (AI) legislation Friday as Congress ramps up efforts to regulate the novel technology.

The proposal from Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) calls for requiring AI companies to apply for licensing and clarifying that a tech liability shield would not protect those companies from lawsuits. 

“This bipartisan framework is a milestone—the first tough, comprehensive legislative blueprint for real, enforceable AI protections. It should put us on a path to addressing the promise and peril AI portends,” Blumenthal said in a statement.

“We’ll continue hearings with industry leaders and experts, as well as other conversations and fact finding to build a coalition of support for legislation.”

Hawley said the principles laid out in the framework should “form the backbone” of Congressional action on AI regulation. 

The framework calls for establishing a licensing regime administered by an independent oversight body. It would require companies that develop AI models to register with the oversight authority, which would have the power to audit the companies seeking licenses. 

It also calls for Congress to clarify that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields tech companies from legal consequences of content posted by third-parties, does not apply to AI.

Other portions of the framework call for companies to promote transparency, protect consumers and kids, and defend national security. 

Blumenthal and Hawley — the top members of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on privacy, technology and law — also announced a Tuesday hearing featuring testimony from Brad Smith, Microsoft vice chairman and president; William Dally, NVIDIA chief scientist and senior vice president of research; and Woodrow Hartzog, Boston University School of Law professor. 

The release of the framework, and the hearing announced alongside it, come just before the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) AI forum, which will bring in leaders from top AI companies to brief lawmakers on the potential risk and benefits AI.

Schumer also released an AI framework in June. The leader’s framework provided a much broader set of key principles rather than some of the more specific action in Hawley and Blumenthal’s proposal.

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