Italy bans ChatGPT citing data breach

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Italy’s privacy watchdog said a data breach was reported affecting ChatGPT users’ conversations and information on payments by subscribers to the service

Authorities in Italy have blocked chatbot ChatGPT with immediate effect in the country.

With this, Italy becomes the first European country to block the advanced Artificial Intelligence software, which is capable of emulating and elaborate human conversations among other actions. Italian data protection authority on Friday (local time) has said that it is blocking the Microsoft backed chatbot developed by US start up OpenAI and will investigate whether it complied with the country’s General Data Protection Regulation.

A data breach affecting ChatGPT users’ conversations and information on payments by subscribers to the service had been reported on March 20, the Italian watchdog said.

Several countries like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea have blocked ChatGPT, which came into existence in November 2022.

The Italian Data Protection Authority (Garante per la protezione dei dati personali) said it has opened an investigation against ChatGPT and the US Company OpenAI.

“No way for ChatGPT to continue processing data in breach of privacy laws. The Italian SA imposed an immediate temporary limitation on the processing of Italian users’ data by OpenAI, the US-based company developing and managing the platform. An inquiry into the facts of the case was initiated as well,” the Authority stated as per a release on its website.

The authority said that it noted the lack of information to users and all interested parties whose data is collected by OpenAI, but above all the absence of a legal basis that justifies the mass collection and storage of personal data, for the purpose of “train” the algorithms underlying the operation of the platform.

The Italian SA emphasizes in its order that the lack of whatever age verification mechanism exposes children to receiving responses that are absolutely inappropriate to their age and awareness, even though the service is allegedly addressed to users aged above 13 according to OpenAI’s terms of service.

OpenAI is not established in the EU, however, it has designated a representative in the European Economic Area.

The Italian data protection authority said that OpenAI has to notigy within 20 days of the measures implemented to comply with the order, otherwise, a fine of up to EUR 20 million or 4 per cent of the total worldwide annual turnover may be imposed.

In its order, the Italian SA highlights that no information is provided to users and data subjects whose data are collected by Open AI; more importantly, 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.

As confirmed by the tests carried out so far, the information made available by ChatGPT does not always match factual circumstances, so inaccurate personal data are processed, the Data Protection Authority of Italy said. (ANI)

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