On Friday, March 31, an Italian privacy regulator, Italian Garante, banned ChatGPT, the widely popular AI chatbot, over a data breach that raised concerns about data privacy. The regulator also raised child safety concerns since OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, does not have a filter on ChatGPT to verify that children under 13 are not using the service.
The regulator’s concern arose after a recent ChatGPT data breach exposed customer information to other users, including ChatGPT chat history and billing information, to other users.
The regulator notified OpenAI that ChatGPT should stop operating in Italy and that OpenAI has 20 days to file a response with counter-evidence against the claim. If OpenAI does not respond within 20 days, they could be subject to a fine of up to €20MM.
A spokesperson for OpenAI confirmed that the service was disabled in Italy for users, reaffirming the company’s commitment to complying with GDPR and other privacy laws.
EU countries have been at the forefront of protecting consumer privacy GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation, went into effect in 2018 and has helped EU countries ensure companies operating in their jurisdiction prioritize safeguarding their citizens’ data. In 2022 alone, GDPR enforcement resulted in companies such as Meta and Google forking over hundreds of millions of dollars to EU regulators.
ChatGPT is not the first chatbot that the regulator banned. In February, Replika.ai was banned in Italy as well. However, this is the first move the regulator has made against the most popular AI chatbot and will likely spur additional bans by other countries.
A Growing Concern About AI Tools
These Italian regulators are just some of those concerned with the rapid pace of innovation with AI tools. Last week, other tech moguls, including Elon Musk, signed an open letter calling for a six-month pause on new experiments with AI that go beyond the power of the newly launched GPT-4.
To avoid creating a SKYNET-like sentient machine, the group claimed that AI companies are “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.”
While ChatGPT and other recent AI technologies generally provide helpful responses, they can also produce humorous, or even harmful, responses.
Regulators have struggled to keep pace with new AI technologies as hundreds of new AI tools are launching daily.
Late last year, ChatGPT made headlines for generating human-like responses in conversations. Created by OpenAI, founded by leading AI technologists, including Sam Altman and Elon Musk, ChatGPT gained over 100MM active users within two months of launching.
Unlike traditional search engines, such as Google and Bing, ChatGPT offers quick and precise answers, sparing users from going through millions of search results. The convenience of this technology, combined with its ability to explain simple and complex topics in a human-like manner, has resulted in over a billion website visits. The exponential growth of ChatGPT has prompted other search engine companies, like Bing and Google, to develop their own AI chatbots.