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ChatGPT is temporarily banned in Italy due to a data collection investigation

A computer screen shows the OpenAI website in Manta, Italy on Friday.

Marco Bertorello/AFP via Getty Images


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Marco Bertorello/AFP via Getty Images

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A computer screen shows the OpenAI website in Manta, Italy on Friday.

Marco Bertorello/AFP via Getty Images

ChatGPT has been temporarily blocked in Italy amid fears that the artificial intelligence tool violated the country’s data collection guidelines.

Widely known for its chatbot capability, AI technology has become a global phenomenon due to the multitude of things it can do, from creating realistic art to passing academic tests to determining a person’s taxes.

On Friday, Italy’s data protection authority announced it would immediately stop the chatbot from collecting Italian user data while authorities investigate OpenAI, the California company behind ChatGPT.

The investigation comes after the chatbot suffered a data breach on March 20 that compromised some users’ personal information, 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 stored is legal. The agency also criticized the lack of an age verification system to prevent minors from being exposed to inappropriate responses.

OpenAI has 20 days to respond to the agency’s concerns or the company could face a fine of either $21 million or 4% of its annual revenue.

Italy is believed to be the first government to temporarily ban ChatGPT in response to privacy concerns. But similar fears have been growing around the world, including in the US

Earlier this week, the Center for AI and Digital Policy filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about the latest version of ChatGPT, describing it as capable of “performing mass surveillance at scale.”

The group called on the FTC to stop OpenAI from releasing future versions until regulations are finalized.

“We recognize a wide range of opportunities and benefits that AI can offer,” the group wrote in a statement. “But unless we are able to maintain control of these systems, we will not be able to manage the resulting risk or the catastrophic results that may occur.”


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