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Italian DPA tells OpenAI that ChatGPT is violating Europe’s privacy laws

BRAZIL - 2023/04/05: In this photo illustration, the ChatGPT logo is seen displayed on a smartphone and the OpenAI company logo on background. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

OpenAI Under Fire for Potential GDPR Violations Over ChatGPT

The Italian Data Protection Authority has accused OpenAI of potentially violating GDPR regulations with its AI chatbot, ChatGPT. After a thorough investigation spanning several months, OpenAI has been notified of the alleged violations and given a 30-day window to respond.

While the specific details of the findings haven’t been disclosed, the Garante, Italy’s data protection authority, has raised concerns about ChatGPT’s compliance with EU data protection laws. The potential breaches include issues related to the collection and processing of personal data without a proper legal basis, as well as the AI tool’s tendency to produce inaccurate information, also known as ‘hallucinations’.

If these violations are confirmed, OpenAI could face significant fines and be required to make changes to its data processing practices. Despite previous concerns raised by the Garante, OpenAI managed to resume ChatGPT’s service in Italy after addressing some of the issues. However, the investigation has now escalated, with the Italian authority reaching preliminary conclusions that ChatGPT is indeed breaching EU law.

One of the critical issues at hand is the legal basis for processing personal data to train AI models like ChatGPT. OpenAI previously relied on claims of legitimate interests but faced challenges due to the strict requirements of the GDPR. The investigation also highlights concerns about data privacy and the potential risks associated with large-scale data processing for commercial AI purposes.

Although OpenAI has responded, asserting its belief in GDPR compliance and its commitment to protecting user data, the outcome of the investigation remains uncertain. The Garante’s notification is not the final decision, and OpenAI’s response will be considered before any further action is taken.

In addition to the Italian probe, OpenAI is also facing regulatory scrutiny in Poland over GDPR compliance issues. The company has taken steps to mitigate regulatory risks by establishing a physical presence in Ireland, aiming to streamline GDPR oversight under the one-stop-shop mechanism. However, until these changes are formalized, OpenAI may continue to encounter regulatory challenges across the EU.

Overall, the investigation underscores the complex nature of AI regulation, particularly concerning data privacy and protection. As authorities strive to ensure compliance, the outcome of OpenAI’s case could have broader implications for the regulation of AI technologies in the EU.

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