The Italian government’s privacy watchdog has temporarily blocked ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) software chatbot, due to concerns about data privacy.
This makes Italy the first country to take such action against this widely-used AI chatbot.
The Italian Data Protection Authority has described this action as provisional, and it will continue until ChatGPT demonstrates respect for privacy. This measure entails temporarily limiting the company’s ability to retain data from Italian users.
According to the watchdog, OpenAI, the ChatGPT developer, lacked a legal basis for collecting and storing large amounts of personal data in order to train the platform’s algorithms.
The watchdog also mentioned a data breach that happened on March 20, exposing user conversations and payment information. The issue was attributed to a bug by OpenAI.
The Italian watchdog has directed OpenAI to report on the steps it has taken to safeguard user data privacy within 20 days or risk being fined up to $22 million or 4% of its global revenue.
Experts in artificial intelligence (AI) predict that other governments will likely follow Italy’s lead and enact comparable regulations.
Ruta Liepina, an AI fellow at the University of Bologna said:
I think there might be some follow-up from other countries, [especially] if the OpenAI company doesn’t provide more information of how the algorithm is trained.
However, companies that have already signed licences to integrate OpenAI into their applications, such as Google, Microsoft, Zoom, Duolingo, and others, are unlikely to be affected by the move.