Italy is the First Country to Ban ChatGPT
Italy has just taken a bold step, becoming the first European nation to ban the use of ChatGPT, a widely popular AI language model.
Italian data protection authorities have raised privacy concerns over OpenAI’s popular chatbot. They claim that as a result of the decision, there will be an instant interim limit on data exchange between OpenAI and users in Italy.
Since its launch in November 2022, ChatGPT has been used by millions of individuals.
In addition to being well-known for its chatbot feature, AI technology has a broad variety of skills, including the ability to create realistic artwork, pass exams, and calculate taxation.
On Friday, the Italian data protection agency announced that it would immediately block the chatbot from collecting Italian users' data while authorities investigate OpenAI, the California company behind ChatGPT.
The agency, also known as Garante charged ChatGPT, which is supported by Microsoft Corp., with ignoring to verify the age of users, who must be 13 or older.
The investigation comes after the chatbot experienced a data breach on March 20, which jeopardised some users' personal data, such as their chat history and payment information. According to OpenAI, the bug that caused the leak has been patched.
But the data breach was not the only cause for concern in the eyes of the Italian government. The agency questioned OpenAI's data collection practices and whether the breadth of data being retained is legal.
ChatGPT has an “absence of any legal basis that justifies the massive collection and storage of personal data” to “train” the chatbot, Garante said. OpenAI has 20 days to respond with remedies or could risk a fine of either $21 million or 4% of its annual revenue.
OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Friday night, ChatGPT was still responding to queries submitted by Italian users.
Due to concerns about data and privacy, Italy is regarded as the first government to temporarily prohibit ChatGPT. But comparable apprehensions have grown everywhere, including in the United States.
Earlier this week, the Center for AI and Digital Policy filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over ChatGPT's latest version, describing it as having the ability to "undertake mass surveillance at scale."
The chatbot is also unavailable in mainland China, Hong Kong, Iran, Russia, and parts of Africa, where residents cannot create OpenAI accounts.
The rapid development of technology has attracted the attention of lawmakers in several countries. Many experts say new regulations are needed to govern AI because of its potential impact on national security, jobs, and education.
The European Commission, which is debating the EU AI Act, may not be inclined to ban AI, European Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager tweeted.
“No matter which #tech we use, we have to continue to advance our freedoms and protect our rights. That’s why we don’t regulate #AI technologies, we regulate the use of #AI", she wrote. “Let’s not throw away in a few years what has taken decades to build.”
The EC did not respond to a request for comment.
On Wednesday, Elon Musk and a group of artificial intelligence experts and industry executives called for a six-month pause in developing systems more powerful than OpenAI’s newly launched GPT-4, in an open letter citing potential risks to society.
OpenAI has not provided details on how it trains its AI model.
“The lack of transparency is the real problem," said Johanna Bjorklund, an AI researcher and associate professor at Umea University in Sweden. “If you do AI research, you should be very transparent about how you do it,”
A UBS report released last month showed that ChatGPT reached 100 million monthly active users in January, just two months after its debut, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history.