ChatGPT Privacy Concerns: Italian watchdog finds OpenAI’s ChatGPT in violation of privacy regulations
OpenAI is under fire again after the Italian watchdog accused the maker of the popular AI tool ChatGPT of breaking privacy laws in Italy. Italy’s data protection authority said on Monday that it has informed OpenAI that its ChatGPT artificial intelligence chatbot application is in violation of data protection regulations.
The Italian watchdog, known as Garante, which is recognized as one of the European Union’s proactive entities in evaluating AI platform compliance with data privacy rules, had briefly banned ChatGPT last year over alleged breaches of EU privacy regulations.
In a recent statement, Garante disclosed the completion of its investigation, revealing that there are indications of one or more potential data privacy violations. The authority granted Microsoft-backed OpenAI a 30-day window to present defense arguments. It also noted that the investigation would consider the findings of a European task force composed of national privacy watchdogs, Reuters reported.
Italy was the first Western European country to take action against ChatGPT, a rapidly developing AI that has been under scrutiny by lawmakers and regulators. According to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), implemented in 2018, companies found in violation of the rules can face fines of up to 4% of their global turnover.
This is not the first time OpenAI has been accused of violating privacy breaches. In March 2023, Italy’s data protection authority temporarily banned OpenAI’s ChatGPT over alleged privacy violations. At the time, the Italian privacy regulator said the ban will remain in effect until OpenAI complies with the European Union’s privacy laws.
In a statement posted on its website, the Italian National Authority for Personal Data Protection said ChatGPT violated the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in several ways, including unlawfully processing people’s data and failing to prevent minors from accessing the AI chatbot.
“No way for ChatGPT to continue processing data in breach of privacy laws. The Italian SA imposed an immediate temporary limitation on the processing of Italian users’ data by OpenAI, the US-based company developing and managing the platform. An inquiry into the facts of the case was initiated as well. A data breach affecting ChatGPT users’ conversations and information on payments by subscribers to the service had been reported on 20 March. ChatGPT is the best known among relational AI platforms that are capable to emulate and elaborate human conversations.”
Meanwhile, in December, EU lawmakers and governments reached provisional terms for regulating AI systems like ChatGPT, marking progress toward establishing comprehensive rules for governing this technology.
ChatGPT has grown in popularity to millions of users within just a few months of its launch. Just two weeks ago, OpenAI launched the latest version of its primary large language model, GPT-4, which the company claimed can beat 90% of humans on the SAT. Unlike its predecessors, OpenAI said the new GPT-4 is a large multimodal model that can solve difficult problems with greater accuracy, adding that GPT-4 is the company’s most advanced system to date, producing safer and more useful responses.