Since Friday, March 31, ChatGPT users in Italy risk a disappointment. The message « access denied » (forbidden access) pops up on their screen all the time, and they can’t use the platform to write a poem to their loved one, fix a plumbing problem, or chat – some of its myriad functions. At issue: the decision of the Italian Regulatory Authority to block ChatGPT, announced in the evening with ” immediate effect “, due to data protection concerns. A choice that makes Rome the first government in the world to ban it in the name of privacy considerations.
The Italian institution has several reasons for concern. First of all, a ” data loss “, she explains in a statement, regarding conversations and user payment information that occurred on March 20. OpenAI, the American company that developed and manages the platform, had then briefly suspended it before recognizing a bug in a third-party tool, which has now been resolved.
Concerns for children under 13
Then, continues the Regulatory Authority, no information is provided to users about the collection of their data. “Above all, there is no legal basis for the massive collection and use of personal data with a view to“train” the algorithm that founds the platform », she continues. Finally, she adds, although ChatGPT claims to be for people over 13, “no age verification mechanism” only allows the rule to be applied, so that “Children are exposed to absolutely inappropriate responses”.
It grants OpenAI a period of 20 days to communicate to it “the measures implemented to meet the requirements”, otherwise the company will have to pay a fine of up to 20 million euros or up to 4% of its annual worldwide turnover. An amount which corresponds to the maximum provided for by the European Regulation on Personal Data (GDPR).
On Twitter, Sam Altman, head of OpenAI, bowed to Rome’s decision while defending himself: “Of course we obey the Italian government and we stop offering ChatGPT in Italy (although we respect privacy laws)”, he wrote. Also, he was in no way disarmed, concluding: “Italy is one of my favorite countries and I hope to come back soon! »
We of course defer to the Italian government and have ceased offering ChatGPT in Italy (though we think we are following all privacy laws).
Italy is one of my favorite countries and I look forward to visiting again soon!
— Sam Altman (@sama) March 31, 2023
ChatGPT, and more generally artificial intelligence, fuel many concerns in Europe. Europol, a service which coordinates the efforts of the 27 against organized crime, thus warned, on Monday March 27, that criminals were ready to take advantage of it to commit fraud and cybercrimes.
Other voices are heard. On Wednesday March 29, hundreds of world experts published an open letter calling for ” pause “ advances in artificial intelligence, evoking “major risks for humanity”. Among them, one of its pioneers, the Canadian Yoshua Bengio, but also business leaders, researchers… “Do we need to develop non-human minds that may one day be more numerous, smarter, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk losing control of our civilization? » they asked themselves in particular, before concluding: “These decisions should not be delegated to unelected technology leaders. »