Generative AI models, such as OpenAI's ChatGPT, collect data to further fine-tune and train their own models. Italy sees this data collection as a potential breach of user privacy and, as a result, has banned ChatGPT in the country.
On Friday, the Italian Data Protection Authority released a statement imposing an immediate temporary limitation on the processing of Italian users' data by OpenAI.
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The two major concerns the ban is trying to address are unauthorized user data collection and the lack of age verification, which exposes children to responses that are "absolutely inappropriate to their age and awareness," according to the release.
In terms of data collection, the authorities claim OpenAI has not been legally authorized to gather user data.
"There appears to be no legal basis underpinning the massive collection and processing of personal data in order to 'train' the algorithms on which the platform relies," says the Italian Data Protection Authority in the release.
OpenAI's designated representative in the European Economic Area has 20 days to comply with the order, otherwise, the AI research company could face a fine of up to 20 million euros or 4% of the total worldwide annual turnover.
The decision was made following a data breach on March 20, which exposed ChatGPT users' conversations and information on payments by subscribers.
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This breach highlighted the potential risks of using AI tools that are still in their research phase but are still available for public use.
So can a ban in the US happen soon? Tech leaders in the US have already begun calling for a temporary ban on further AI developments.
Earlier this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Emad Mostaque, CEO of Stability AI were among the tech leaders who signed a petition calling on AI labs to pause, for at least six months, the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.
Like the Italy ban, the break urged by the petition is meant to protect society from the "profound risks to society and humanity" that AI systems with human-competitive intelligence can provoke.
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The petition even urges US lawmakers to consider intervention if the pause isn't brought on by the AI labs themselves.