ChatGPT banned in Italy

Andrew Griffin
Friday 31 March 2023 13:11 BST
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ChatGPT is now banned in Italy.

The country’s data protection authorities said AI service would be blocked and investigated over privacy concerns.

The system does not have a proper legal basis to be collecting personal information about the people using it, the Italian agency said. That data is collected to help train the algorithm that powers ChatGPT’s answers.

Authorities also accused OpenAI of failing to check the age of its ChatGPT users, and not properly enforcing rules banning over 13s. Those young users could potentially be exposed to “unsuitable answers” from the chatbot, given their relative lack of development, authorities said.

It is just the latest censure of ChatGPT, and the artificial intelligence systems underpinning it that are made by creators OpenAI. Italy’s decision came days after a range of experts called for a halt on the development of new systems, amid fears that the rush to create new AI tools could be dangerous.

European consumer organisation BEUC also called for an investigation from EU and national authorities on Thursday, pointing specifically to the lack of regulation for ChatGPT and other systems and potential privacy problems. It called for an immediate investigation “into the risks of ChatGPT and similar chatbots for European consumers”.

The new statement from Italy’s regulators pointed specifically to a data breach last week, in which users reported being able to see other people’s chat histories.

OpenAI does not have an office in the EU. But it has a designated representative in the European Economic Area, which now has 20 days to provide information on measures it has taken in response to regulators’ concerns.

It is not clear how many of the apps users are in Italy. But it is estimated to have been used by 100 million people all over the world in its first two months.

The company did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment on the block.

The service still appears to be accessible from Italy at the time of publication. The block requires that OpenAI stop processing the data of Italian users until the privacy issues are solved – suggesting that the company itself will be required to block users from Italy.

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