Italy Bans ChatGPT and Says It Will Investigate OpenAI

A image of the ChatGPT chatbot on a phone. Italy banned ChatGPT on March 30.
A image of the ChatGPT chatbot on a phone. Italy banned ChatGPT on March 30.

Italy temporarily blocked access to ChatGPT on Friday, and the country’s data privacy regulator said it would begin an investigation into the company behind the popular chatbot, OpenAI.

In a news release, the Italian Data Protection Authority ordered the immediate ban on ChatGPT in the country and listed its concerns with the chatbot. Most importantly, the Italian privacy regulator stated that there is no legal basis that justifies the collection and mass storage of personal data OpenAI uses to train the AI. Furthermore, the regulator added that OpenAI provides scant information to users whose data it collects. The regulator alleges OpenAI is violating the European Union’s privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. As noted by Politico, the ban won’t be permanent and is only in place until the Italian regulator determines whether OpenAI has complied with GDPR.

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However, OpenAI’s data collection practices aren’t the only thing under the spotlight here. The Italian privacy regulator pointed out that the information provided by ChatGPT doesn’t always correspond to the facts in the real data, thereby resulting in the “incorrect processing of personal data,” which is illegal under GDPR. OpenAI acknowledges that this can occur in its FAQ section, where it states that “ChatGPT will occasionally make up facts or ‘hallucinate’ outputs.”

The Italian privacy regulator was also unhappy with OpenAI’s lack of any age verification filter ChatGPT, even though the service is meant to be used by people 13 years of age and older. It stated that ChatGPT exposes minors to unsuitable answers for their degree of development and self-awareness.

According to the news release, OpenAI has 20 days to respond to the Italian privacy regulator and provide the measures it has taken in response to the regulator’s concerns. OpenAI doesn’t have an office in the EU but does have a representative in the European Economic Area. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to €20 million or up to 4% of annual global turnover.

Gizmodo reached out to OpenAI for comment on the Italian ban on Friday morning but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

The Italian ChatGPT ban comes just days after a coalition of more than 500 experts published an open letter asking AI labs to pause all training on AI systems for at least six months. The letter’s signatories included Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk, who co-founded OpenAI back in 2015 but has since cut ties with the company.

“Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources,” the letter stated. “Unfortunately, this level of planning and management is not happening, even though recent months have seen AI labs locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one—not even their creators—can understand, predict, or reliably control.”

Want to know more about AI, chatbots, and the future of machine learning? Check out our full coverage of artificial intelligence, or browse our guides to The Best Free AI Art Generators and Everything We Know About OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

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