Italy has temporarily blocked ChatGPT over privacy concerns and has launched an investigation into how OpenAI uses data.
The country’s data protection agency’s ban comes days after ChatGPT suffered a data breach, which exposed some of its subscribers’ personal and payment information.
The agency noted that the platform’s users lack information about how their data is collected and raised concerns over the lack of age verification, which can potentially expose children to inappropriate content.
“There appears to be no legal basis underpinning the massive collection and processing of personal data in order to ‘train’ the algorithms on which the platform relies,” the agency said.
Open AI, the parent organization of ChatGPT, has been banned from processing information of Italian users and given 20 days to report on the measures it is going to take to comply with the country’s data regulations. If it fails to comply, it would be liable to pay $21.8 million in fines or 4% of its global turnover.
ChatGPT, launched just four months ago, has seen its popularity spread like wildfire, captivating millions of users with its ability to craft thoughtful content on complex topics in seconds. Many users have been using it to write stories, academic essays, poems, emails and business plans, among other things. ChatGPT’s newer version, which was released earlier this month, is said to be even more powerful. In a simulated law school bar exam test, it scored among the top 10% of test takers, according to CNN.
The wild success of ChatGPT has kick-started a race among tech companies to develop their own forms of generative AI tools. Google, for example, has launched Bard. Meanwhile, Apple and Amazon are said to be working on their own unique versions. And in China, tech giants such as Alibaba, Baidu and JD.com are all developing ChatGPT-like products.
The increased investment and interest in generative AI tools have left data privacy regulators playing catch up. The EU, for one, is currently finalizing rules for new and upcoming AI-powered platforms.