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ChatGPT Ban in Italy Over Privacy Issues and Lack of Age-Verification System


Andrew NG

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On Friday, Italy’s data protection watchdog immediately banned OpenAI’s famous AI chatbot, ChatGPT, due to an alleged violation of privacy. Until the necessary investigation is executed, ChatGPT will remain banned in Italy. The ban was raised on ChatGPT after authorities issued a flag over mass data gathering protocol. ChatGPT has been temporarily blocked in Italy amid concerns that the artificial intelligence tool violated the country’s policies on data collection.

ChatGPT Ban in Italy

As per the Italian watchdog, ChatGPT lacks legal justification for collecting and storing users’ personal data to training algorithms underlying the process of the AI system. According to the watchdog, a breach was also reported on 20th March, revealing users’ chats along with their payment information. 

UPDATE – Italy Restores ChatGPT after OpenAI Responds to Regulator

Key Points: 

  • The Italian Data protection watchdog immediately banned ChatGPT due to privacy concerns on 31 March 2023. 
  • The privacy concerns include OpenAI’s lack of justification for the collection and storing of user’s personal data 
  • Italian data-protection authority claimed OpenAI has twenty days to respond to watchdog’s concerns 

Why did Italy ban OpenAI’s ChatGPT? 

ChatGPT was released back in November 2022 and has been unstoppable since then, its features and ability to generate content in a human-like tone, write codes, and explain complex queries into simple sentences within a few seconds have been impressing users around the world.

However, ChatGPT was highly criticized by the Italian data regulator due to its inability to provide information to ChatPT users whose data was being accumulated and stored by OpenAI. The issue states, “There is no legal basis to justify the collection and mass storage of personal data with the aim of ‘training’ the algorithms that run the platform”. But you can still use chatgpt in Italy, to know more head over to the linked article.

The Italian watchdog stated it would not only block the usage of OpenAI’s ChatGPT but also investigate whether it relented with General data protection regulations. 

GDPR controls the way through which we can utilize, process, and store personal data. 

A breach was also reported by the watchdog on 20th March, which caused an infringement of the user’s chats with ChatGPT along with the user’s payment information. 

In addition, it was also noticed that the AI chatbot machine is intended for users who are more than 13 years old, However, “The authority noticed no filter was established in the AI chatbot to perform an age verification on users and expose minors to responses not following their level of growth”.

Due to the same concerns, ChatGPT’s rival Google’s Bard, another AI chatbot, has restricted the availability of their chat service to users over 18. 

There have been privacy concerns and risks of spreading misleading information, biases, and threats to jobs. 

Many tech leaders including Elon musk asked for a pause on AI chat service development and remarked ChatGPT is a “Profound threat to humanity and society”. OpenAI has been asked to communicate with the Italian data protection authority within 20 days the measure undertaken to resolve this situation. Either pays a fine of €20 million ($21.7m) or about 4% of its annual turnover worldwide

Cybersecurity ratings provider security scorecard, Dan Morgan stated, the ban should be implied as it showcases the importance of regulatory compliance for businesses operating in Europe. Companies must prioritize their personal data and comply with stringent data protection rules and regulations set by the EU – compliance with regularity is not an optional extra. 

The deputy director general of BEUC, Ursula Pachl, has raised her concern and warned the society saying, “Currently not protected enough from the harm” which can be caused due to AI. 

The troubles are growing due to ChatGPT and other AI chatbots that might mislead and influence people. AI systems like ChatGPT require public scrutiny along with authorities to reassert the command.  

Due to privacy concerns, Italy has become the first country to ban OpenAI popular chatbot ChatGPT. Apart from Italy, ChatGPT has already been banned in several countries such as Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.

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