Italy privacy watchdog blocks ChatGPT, citing data breach
The OpenAI logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen displaying output from ChatGPT, on March 21, 2023, in Boston. The Italian government’s privacy watchdog said Friday March 31, 2023 that it is temporarily blocking the artificial intelligence software ChatGPT in the wake of a data breach. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
By Frances D’emilio And Matt O’brien in Rome
ROME (AP) — The Italian government’s privacy watchdog said Friday that it is temporarily blocking the artificial intelligence software ChatGPT in the wake of a data breach.
In a statement on its website, the Italian Data Protection Authority described its action as provisional “until ChatGPT respects privacy.” The watchdog’s measure involves temporarily limiting the company from holding Italian users’ data.
U.S.-based OpenAI, which developed ChatGPT, didn’t immediately return a request for comment Friday.
While some public schools and universities around the world have blocked the ChatGPT website from their local networksover student plagiarism concerns, it’s not clear how Italy would block it at a nationwide level.
The move also is unlikely to affect applications from companies that already have licenses with OpenAI to use the same technology driving the chatbot, such as Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
The AI systems that power such chatbots, known as large language models, are able to mimic human writing styles based on the huge trove of digital books and online writings they have ingested.
The Italian watchdog said OpenAI must report to it within 20 days what measures it has taken to ensure the privacy of users’ data or face a fine of up to either 20 million euros (nearly $22 million) or 4% of annual global revenue.
The agency’s statement noted that ChatGPT faced a loss of data on March 20 “regarding the conversations of users and information related to the payment of the subscribers for the service.”
OpenAI earlier announced that it had to take ChatGPT offline on March 20 to fix a bug that allowed some people to see the titles, or subject line, of other users’ chat history.
“Our investigation has also found that 1.2% of ChatGPT Plus users might have had personal data revealed to another user,” the company said. “We believe the number of users whose data was actually revealed to someone else is extremely low and we have contacted those who might be impacted.”
Italy’s privacy watchdog lamented “the lack of a notice to users and to all those involved whose data is gathered by OpenAI” and “above all, the absence of a juridical basis that justified the massive gathering and keeping of personal data, with the aim of ‘training’ algorithms underlying the functioning of the platform.”
The agency said information supplied by ChatGPT “doesn’t always correspond to real data, thus determining the keeping of inexact personal data.”
Finally, it noted “the absence of any kind of filter to verify the age of the users, exposing minors to answers absolutely unsuitable to their degree of development and self-awareness.”
A group of scientists and tech industry leaders published a letter Wednesday calling for companies such as OpenAI to pause the development of more powerful AI models until the fall to give time for society to weigh the risks.
The San Francisco-based company’s CEO, Sam Altman, announced this week that he’s embarking on a six-continent trip in May to talk about the technology with users and developers. That includes a stop planned for Brussels, where European Union lawmakers have been negotiating sweeping new rules to limit high-risk AI tools.
Altman said his stops in Europe would include Madrid, Munich, London and Paris.
O’Brien reported from Providence, Rhode Island. AP Business Writer Kelvin Chan contributed from London.
Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec join Ottawa in investigating ChatGPT
The ChatGPT app is displayed on an iPhone in New York, Thursday, May 18, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Richard Drew
The governments of Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec are joining the federal privacy commissioner in investigating the company behind the artificial intelligence-powered chatbot, ChatGPT.
Alberta’s privacy authority says the joint investigation would see if OpenAI, which is the parent company of ChatGPT, obtained valid consent from Canadians to collect, use and disclose their personal information via its chatbot.
ChatGPT, which was launched in November, uses already existing information on the internet and responds to questions from users in a conversational manner.
The privacy authorities say they will also investigate if the U.S.-based company followed its obligation to transparency, access, accuracy and accountability.
Privacy Commissioner of Canada Philippe Dufresne has said artificial intelligence and its effects on privacy are a top priority.
The federal authority launched its investigation in April.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2023.
ChatGPT makes its debut as a smartphone app on iPhones
This photo, in New York, Thursday, May 18, 2023, shows the ChatGPT app on an iPhone. The free app started to become available on iPhones in the U.S. on Thursday and will later be coming to Android phones. Unlike the web version, you can also ask it questions using your voice. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
By Matt O’brien
ChatGPT is now a smartphone app, which could be good news for people who like to use the artificial intelligence chatbot and bad news for all the clone apps that have tried to profit off the technology.
The free app became available on iPhones and iPads in the U.S. on Thursday and will later be coming to Android devices. Unlike the desktop web version, the mobile version on Apple’s iOS operating system also enables users to speak to it using their voice.
The company that makes it, OpenAI, said it will remain ad-free but “syncs your history across devices.”
“We’re starting our rollout in the U.S. and will expand to additional countries in the coming weeks,” said a blog post announcing the new app, which is described in the App Store as the “official app” by OpenAI.
It’s been more than five months since OpenAI released ChatGPT to the public, sparking excitement and alarm at its ability to generate convincingly human-like essays, poems, form letters and conversational answers to almost any question. But the San Francisco startup never seemed to be in a hurry to get it onto phones — where most people access the internet.
“We’re not trying to get people to use it more and more,” OpenAI CEO Sam Altman told U.S. senators this week in a hearing over how to regulate AI systems such as those built by his company.
The delay in getting the product on phones helped fuel a rise of clones built on similar technology, some of which the security firm Sophos described as “fleeceware” in a report this week because they push unsuspecting users toward enrolling in a free trial that converts into a recurring subscription, or use intrusive advertising techniques.
Another privacy researcher, Simon Migliano, said the official ChatGPT app might eventually starve similar-sounding apps of new users, but that could take a while because many of those apps were given names deliberately intended to confuse people into thinking they already have the official app. They were also “hyper-optimized” to rank highly in Apple’s App Store search results, said Migliano, head of research at Top10VPN.com.
“For many of those who have already downloaded a clone, it’s likely they will simply stick with the ChatGPT apps they already have and continue to have their personal data harvested and sold,” Migliano said.
Altman told Congress this week that his company doesn’t try to maximize engagement because it doesn’t have an advertising-based business, and because it’s costly to train and run its AI models on computer chips known as graphics processing units.
“In fact, we’re so short on GPUs, the less people use our products, the better,” Altman said.
The new app does include an option to pay for a premium version of ChatGPT with additional features. Along with those subscriptions, the company makes money from developers and corporations that pay to integrate its AI models into their own apps and products.
Its chief partner, Microsoft, has invested billions of dollars into the startup and has integrated ChatGPT-like technology into its own products, including a chatbot for its search engine Bing.
The ChatGPT app will now compete for attention with the Bing chatbot already available on iPhones, and could eventually compete with a mobile version of rival Google’s chatbot, called Bard. Versions of OpenAI’s chatbot technology can also be found in other apps, such as the “My AI” feature on Snapchat.
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