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Do You Know ChatGPT Has Been Banned by Italy? Here’s Why

Italy becomes the first country to do so

Like the past years, a flurry of tech tools came and went in 2022; while some succeeded in making a distinct name of its own, some fizzled out. Analyzing the current trends in 2023, it can be said beyond a shadow of doubt that the tech market is presently highly swept by the craze of ChatGPT. However, very recently ChatGPT has faced something as severe as a ban.

Italy has become the first Western nation to block the advanced chatbot ChatGPT temporarily. The model, developed by US start-up OpenAI and supported by Microsoft, raised privacy issues, according to the Italian data protection authorities. With “immediate effect,” the agency said it will forbid OpenAI and launch an investigation.

Delving into the story

While some people had a gala time using the chatbot's impressive abilities, others have been concerned about its negative implications. And now, Italy has become the first country in the world to ban ChatGPT over privacy concerns.

The parent firm of ChatGPT, OpenAI, has been charged by Italy's data protection authority with “unlawfully collecting personal data from users.” The March 20 data breach at ChatGPT was also mentioned by the Italian government's watchdog. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman also confirmed a breach.

ChatGPT has also been charged with having an inadequate age-verification mechanism that could expose children to “illicit material” by Italy's data protection authority. For those who are over the age of 13, ChatGPT is intended. Nevertheless the Italian regulatory body emphasized that there was no way to determine the user's age.

As a result, OpenAI has been instructed to restrict ChatGPT in Italy until the business is able to provide “additional information” regarding these worries. Before the Italian government makes a final judgement about the fate of the AI chatbot in the nation, the business has been given 20 days to present the material and the “possible remedies.”

OpenAI was given 20 days by the Italian data protection authorities to respond to the watchdog's concerns or face a fine of up to €20 million ($21.7 million) or 4% of annual revenues. As for the prohibition, the Irish Data Protection Commission told the BBC that it is coordinating with all EU data protection authorities and is following up with the Italian authority to understand the reasons behind their decision.

The UK's independent data regulator, the Information Commissioner's Office, told the BBC that it would “support” breakthroughs in AI but was also prepared to “challenge non-compliance” with data protection regulations.

Also read: Attention! Apple Blocks Update of Email Using ChatGPT

The restriction, according to Dan Morgan of cybersecurity rating service SecurityScorecard, highlights the significance of regulatory compliance for businesses doing business in Europe.

Following the filing of a complaint in the US, the consumer advocacy group BEUC urged EU and national authorities to look into ChatGPT and other comparable chatbots, including data-protection watchdogs.

The BEUC is concerned that although the EU is presently drafting the first AI law in the world, it would be years before it could go into effect, putting consumers at danger from a technology that is not appropriately regulated. The deputy director general of BEUC, Ursula Pachl warned that society was “currently not protected enough from the harm” which AI can possibly cause.

She further added- “There are serious concerns growing about how ChatGPT and similar chatbots might deceive and manipulate people. These AI systems need greater public scrutiny, and public authorities must reassert control over them.”

Also read: How Does ChatGPT function? Here’s a Detailed Guide!

So, what has OpenAI got to say about this?

According to an article in the New York Times, OpenAI intentionally works to “reduce personal data in training their AI systems like ChatGPT because they want their AI to learn about the world, not about private individuals”.

The company also added- “We also believe that A.I. regulation is necessary.”

Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, also responded to the ban on Twitter by referring to Italy as one of his favourite nations in the world. He wrote, “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.”

In an interview with ABC News, Sam Altman previously discussed the potential for AI to displace some human employment. He had also expressed concern over “how quickly” the transition will occur. The CEO did add, though, that people had “limitless creativity” and will eventually come up with fresh ideas.

Also read: Gaining Insight on the Probability of ChatGPT Replacing Google!

To sum it up

From phishing to false information and viruses, the fast developing capabilities of chatbots are expected to be soon abused by people with malevolent intentions. This week, Elon Musk and thousands of other academics from around the world cautioned that AI systems pose “profound risks to society and humanity” and urged businesses to stop further research and development for at least six months.

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