Italy’s national privacy regulator has ordered an effective ban of AI chatbot ChatGPT, accusing creators OpenAI of “unlawful collection of personal data.” It’s ordered OpenAI to stop collecting Italian users’ data immediately until it amends its data collection practices.
“We have disabled ChatGPT for users in Italy at the request of the Italian Garante [the regulator],” a spokesperson for OpenAI told Computing. “We are committed to protecting people’s privacy and we believe we comply with GDPR and other privacy laws.”
The country’s Data Protection Authority, the GPDP, issued a press release this morning saying that the company lacks lawful justification for the collection of users’ personal information. The GPDP says that OpenAI also has no mechanism in place to stop underage users accessing the service, which “exposes minors to absolutely unsuitable answers compared to their degree of development and self-awareness” (translation via Google).
This isn’t the first time that Italy’s data watchdog has taken such action against an AI chatbot. The regulator previously banned chatbot app Replika.ai in February. Replika has become notorious for the personal relationships some users develop with its chatbot, with many expressing distress after the company recently removed the option for erotic roleplay.
At the time of publication, The Verge was still able to access ChatGPT via a VPN redirecting traffic through Milan, Italy. But it will likely take some time for OpenAI to comply with the order to stop processing Italian users’ data. The GPDP says the company has 20 days to communicate what measures it’s taken to meet the regulators’ requirements, and may face fines of up to €20 million (or 4 percent of annual global turnover) if it fails.
Update Monday April 3rd, 4:24:AM ET: Story updated with statement from OpenAI confirming it has blocked ChatGPT in Italy.