Updated Mar 31, 2023, 1:25pm EDT

Italy bans ChatGPT over privacy concerns

REUTERS/Florence Lo/

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The News

Italy’s data-protection authority imposed a ban on ChatGPT, citing privacy concerns, and opened an investigation into OpenAI, the U.S. company behind the artificial intelligence application, over a suspected breach of data collection rules.

It is the first Western country to block the advanced chatbot, according to the BBC.

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Know More

The regulator said that the company has no legal basis to justify collecting and storing people's personal data “for the purpose of 'training' the algorithms” of the chatbot.

Earlier this week the European Union's law enforcement agency Europol expressed concern about the spread of disinformation when data through the app is processed inaccurately, Reuters reported.

The Italian ban order is temporary — until OpenAI complies with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, a privacy law that protects individuals’ fundamental rights to data protection.

ChatGPT suffered a data breach last week where it exposed the conversations and payment information of a small fraction of ChatGPT Plus subscribers, Italian authorities said. They also accused ChatGPT of failing to check the age of its users: Only people above the age of 13 are supposed to be allowed to access the chatbot.

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Step Back

Italy’s ban comes days after experts called for a stop to updates of ChatGPT and the development of new apps similar to the artificial intelligence tool, fearing that they could pose irreparable harm.

The app reached 100 million monthly active users two months after it launched in November, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history, according to Reuters.

Semafor reached out to OpenAI for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

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The View From the European Economic Area

ChatGPT’s representative in the European Economic Area has 20 days to respond to how the app plans to comply with EU privacy laws. If not, OpenAI will be fined up to 4% of its global revenue, Politico reports.