Watchdog in Italy Blocks GPT

Nation to investigate OpenAI over data protection, privacy concerns
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2023 4:45 PM CDT
Watchdog in Italy Blocks GPT
The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen displaying output from ChatGPT, on March 21, 2023, in Boston.   (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

Italy has become the first western country to ban ChatGPT, at least temporarily, per the BBC and the AP. The country's data-protection authority said Friday that it would immediately block OpenAI's chatbot and investigate it for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation, a piece of European Union law governing data protection and privacy. The independent watchdog said there was no legal justification for "the mass collection and storage of personal data for the purpose of 'training' the algorithms underlying the operation of the platform" and referred to the "inaccurate processing of personal data" in apparent violation of the GDPR.

According to TechCrunch, the GDPR "provides Europeans with a suite of rights over their data, including the right to rectification of errors." It adds OpenAI "does not appear to have informed people whose data it's repurposed to train its commercial AIs," which "could be a pretty sticky problem for it." The Italian Data Protection Authority (IDPA)—which referred to a March 20 data breach exposing users' conversation history and payment information—also said ChatGPT doesn't verify the age of users like Google's rival chatbot, and therefore "exposes minors to absolutely unsuitable answers compared to their degree of development and awareness."

The move follows a week of intense discussion of privacy and safety concerns around advanced AI. Days ago, the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) called for the EU and individual countries to investigate ChatGPT, with deputy director general Ursula Pachl describing "serious concerns" about how AI-powered chatbots "might deceive and manipulate people," per Fortune. Critics say these systems provide false information, amplify biases in source material, and carry huge environmental costs. OpenAI will have 20 days to respond to the IDPA complaint. Per TechCrunch, a company found to have violated the GDPR can be fined the greater of $21.7 million or up to 4% of annual turnover. (More ChatGPT stories.)

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