Microsoft faces EU pressure but avoids UK probe

17 May 2024

Image: © Rokas/

The EU is concerned that Bing’s AI features could impact elections, while the UK’s CMA has decided not to investigate Microsoft’s partnership with Mistral AI.

The EU has Microsoft on its regulatory radar, as it has sent the company a legally binding request for information about Bing’s generative AI features.

The European Commission said this request for information is based on suspicions that Bing may have breached the Digital Services Act (DSA) due to risks linked to generative AI. These risks include AI ‘hallucinations’, the viral spread of deepfakes and the “automated manipulation of services that can mislead voters”.

Under the DSA, designated platforms such as Bing must carry out adequate risk assessments of their services and adopt measures to mitigate these risks.

The EU sent a request for information to Bing on 14 March regarding these concerns, but says the internal documents and data it wanted was not disclosed by the company. Bing now has until 27 May to provide the requested information to the European Commission.

If it fails to do so, Bing could be hit with fines of 1pc of its total annual income or worldwide turnover. It could also be hit with periodic penalties of up to 5pc of its  average daily income.

“In this particular case, the Commission considers that the suspected violations of the DSA may present risks linked to civic discourse and electoral processes,” the European Commission said. “A request for information is an investigatory act that does not prejudge potential further steps the Commission may or may not decide to take.”

Microsoft avoids Mistral probe

Meanwhile, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has opted to not investigate Microsoft’s partnership with the start-up Mistral AI.

Microsoft backed the French unicorn earlier this year as part of a “multi-year partnership” to boost its Azure cloud computing platform with AI. But the CMA had concerns around whether the agreements between the two companies qualified as a merger deal.

As part of that effort, the CMA looked into the minority investment deals agreed by Microsoft and Mistral. The regulator had concerns that the links between the two companies could impact competition within the UK.

But in a brief statement released today (17 May), the CMA decided that Microsoft’s partnership with Mistral AI “does not qualify for investigation” under the merger provisions in the UK.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic