In a first within the European community, OpenAI’s ChatGPT has been banned by the nation of Italy. According to the BBC, concerns about the privacy rights of Italian citizens caused the ban with regulators that their government will investigate OpenAI “with immediate effect.” Whether this will cause other nations within the European Bloc to take similar measures is still not known. But a consumer advocacy group by the name of BEUC called on the EU and individual authorities to investigate ChatGPT and other chatbots.
Ursula Pachl, deputy director general of BEUC warned that society is not “currently not protected enough from the harm that AI can cause…There are serious concerns growing about how ChatGPT and similar chatbots might deceive and manipulate people. These AI systems need greater public scrutiny, and public authorities must reassert control over them.” Though the ban on ChatGPT isn’t unique to Italy, as China, North Korea, and Russia all have banned the chatbot, Italy is the first western nation to make such a move.
But the Italian watchdog said it isn’t just blocking ChatGPT in Italy. In the same report, they said that they will also investigate if OpenAI has complied with the General Data Protection Regulation, which governs the way how data can be used processed, and stored. Pointing to the GDPR the watchdog stated that, “the mass collection and storage of personal data for the purpose of ‘training’ the algorithms underlying the operation of the platform.”
They also pointed to OpenAI’s lack of age verification claiming that it, “exposes minors to absolutely unsuitable answers compared to their degree of development and awareness.” But it’s not just in the EU where ChatGPT is facing mounting pressure. Yesterday, another advocacy group filed a complaint to the FTC against OpenAI citing concerns of bias. Though the FTC is unlikely to take action against OpenAI, this shows that governments are paying close attention to the wildly popular LLM.
Other EU nations are taking note as well. In Ireland, the Irish data protection commission told the BBC in the same report that they will also contact Italian regulators to better understand Italian actions and “will coordinate with all EU data protection authorities.” Finally, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office, and the United Kingdom’s independent data regulator that they are both in support of AI development but are ready to challenge any non-compliance with data protection laws.
All of this comes a few days after 1,000 AI researchers and tech leaders called for AI labs to take a six-month pause on the further development of LLMs more powerful than GPT-4. And if not, request that the government take action to ensure there isn’t a voluntary pause.