Italy last week became the first Western country to block ChatGPT, a popular chatbot powered by artificial intelligence (AI) due to data security concerns.

It seems that Germany may too follow in Italy’s footsteps and block the AI chatbot in the country.

In an interview that was published in the Handelsblatt newspaper (via Yahoo News) on Monday, the German commissioner for data protection, Ulrich Kelber, said that his country too could follow Italy’s recent ChatGPT ban and take a similar action.

“In principle, such action is also possible in Germany,” said Ulrich Kelber, adding that this would fall under state jurisdiction.

He also stated that the country’s regulators have been in talks with Italian government regulators and have requested additional information from Italy concerning its temporary ban on ChatGPT.

Similarly, data privacy regulators in other EU (European Union) nations, such as France and Ireland, have reached out to their Italian counterparts to review their findings.

“We are following up with the Italian regulator to understand the basis for their action and we will coordinate with all EU data protection authorities in relation to this matter,”  a spokesperson for Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) was quoted by Reuters.

ChatGPT Ban In Italy

The Italian Data Protection Authority (Garante per la protezione dei dati personali) last Friday temporarily banned ChatGPT in the country “with immediate effect” and opened an investigation against OpenAI into a suspected breach of Europe’s strict privacy regulations.

It said it was taking provisional action against OpenAI “until ChatGPT respects privacy”, including temporarily restricting the processing of data of Italian users.

For those unaware, ChatGPT was launched as a prototype on November 2022. Within a few days of its release, ChatGPT managed to garner more than one million users within a week.

It became insanely popular because of its immense capabilities, be it content writing through simple prompts, organizing people’s meals, planning a holiday party, or even writing a song, and much more.

The country’s Data Protection Authority accused ChatGPT’s parent company OpenAI of ‘unlawfully collecting personal data from users’ as well as not having a proper age-verification system in place. It pointed out that OpenAI did not implement sufficient measures in place to prevent users aged 13 and below from using ChatGPT.

The Garante also referred to a data breach dating back to March 20 in which users reported being able to access user conversations and information related to the payment of subscribers to the paid service.

“We noticed a lack of clear notice to users and all interested parties whose data are collected by OpenAI, but above all, the absence of a legal basis that justifies the collection and massive storage of personal data to ‘train’ the algorithms upon which the platform is based,” read an announcement (in Italian) published on Friday.

OpenAI has been given 20 days (i.e. until April 19) to answer to the Data Protection Authority as to how what measures it has undertaken to address the watchdog’s concerns.

Following the temporary ban and investigation, OpenAI took the ChatGPT offline in Italy. ChatGPT is already blocked in countries like China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran.

“We are committed to protecting people’s privacy and we believe we comply with GDPR and other privacy laws. We actively work to reduce personal data in training our A.I. systems like ChatGPT because we want our A.I. to learn about the world, not about private individuals,” OpenAI said last week.

“We also believe that AI regulation is necessary — so we look forward to working closely with the Garante and educating them on how our systems are built and used.”

OpenAI even said that it is looking forward to making ChatGPT available in Italy again “soon”.

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