March 28, 2024
EU Investigates Microsoft's Partnership with Mistral AI

EU Investigates Microsoft’s Partnership with Mistral AI

Microsoft’s new partnership with French tech startup Mistral AI has triggered concerns in the European Union, prompting lawmakers to call for an investigation into what they perceive as a concentration of power by the tech giant. This move follows ongoing scrutiny of Microsoft’s collaboration with OpenAI, with the European Commission warning of potential breaches of EU competition rules.

Lawmakers were surprised by Microsoft’s 15-million euro ($16 million) investment in Mistral, demanding scrutiny over the perceived power concentration. Microsoft clarified that the investment would convert into equity in Mistral’s next funding round. The deal has sparked controversy in Brussels, raising questions about Mistral’s motivations and the adequacy of regulations in the EU’s AI Act. Microsoft’s previous multi-billion dollar investment in OpenAI faced regulatory pressure, leading the tech giant to emphasize its lack of ownership in the company.

The Mistral deal has reignited concerns in Brussels, where lawmakers spent months negotiating the AI Act. Mistral, which lobbied for AI system exemptions during the negotiations, now faces scrutiny over its deal with Microsoft. European Parliament member Brando Benefei highlighted the need to maintain ambition in AI safety regulations, while some lawmakers criticized the influence of American-backed big tech lobbying during the AI Act negotiations.

The partnership has prompted questions about the French government’s role, and lawmakers are calling for an investigation into the concentration of money and power. The announcement has reignited concerns over the influence of large tech companies in shaping regulations, and some lawmakers argue that European regulators have been manipulated. The French government has not responded to requests for comment. Microsoft and Mistral AI declined to provide comments on the matter.

Max von Thun, Europe director at Open Markets Institute, emphasized the need for a swift EU investigation into the partnership. He criticized Mistral’s attempt to influence the AI Act based on its status as a “European champion,” calling it a farce. The EU’s focus on strengthening antitrust laws aligns with the growing concerns about the power dynamics in the tech industry.

Image by gpointstudio on Freepik

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