Italy has banned the chatbot ChatGPT, developed by US start-up OpenAI with support from Microsoft, due to privacy concerns. This makes Italy the first Western country to take such action against artificial intelligence. The Italian data protection agency claims that the model poses privacy risks, leading to an immediate ban and investigation against OpenAI on March 31st. OpenAI, however, stated that it complies with Italy’s privacy laws and has already taken ChatGPT offline in Italy.
This ban comes at a time of increasing concern over the risks of artificial intelligence (AI). Tech industry figures, including Elon Musk, have called for a pause in the development of more advanced AI systems. They fear the impact on jobs, as well as the dissemination of false information and biases.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman acknowledged mistakes in the open-source library. These mistakes caused chat logs with ChatGPT to leak. The Italian regulatory agency found that ChatGPT exposed minors to unsuitable answers because it couldn’t verify users’ ages.
As a result of this violation, OpenAI has 20 days to explain how it will address the regulatory concerns. Otherwise, it will face a fine of up to 20 million euros or 4% of its annual revenue, whichever is higher. In addition, the Irish Data Protection Commission is following up with the Italian regulatory agency to understand the basis for their actions and “will coordinate with all EU data protection authorities on the ban.”
The UK’s independent data regulatory agency, the Information Commissioner’s Office, supports the development of artificial intelligence. However, it is also prepared to “challenge” behavior that violates data protection laws. It is worth noting that Google’s AI chatbot competitor Bard has already been launched, but it is only available to specific users over the age of 18, likely for the same concerns.