Tech

OpenAI geoblocks ChatGPT in Italy


No, it’s not an April Fool’s joke: OpenAI has started geoblocking access to its generic AI chatbot, ChatGPT, in Italy.

The move after a order of the local data protection authority that it must stop processing Italian data for the ChatGPT service.

In a statement that appeared online for users with Italian IP addresses attempting to access ChatGPT, OpenAI wrote that it “regretfully” had to notify users that it had disabled users’ access in Italy — at the “request” of the data protection authority — which it is called ensure.

It also says it will issue refunds to all users in Italy who purchased the ChatGPT Plus subscription service last month — and also notes that it “pauses” subscription renewals there so users won’t be charged. while the service is suspended.

OpenAI appears to be adopting a simple geoblocking at this point—which means that using a VPN to switch to a non-Italian IP address would provide a simple alternative to the block. Although if the original ChatGPT account was registered in Italy it may no longer be accessible and users who want to circumvent the ban may have to create a new account with a non-Italian IP address.

OpenAI notifies users in Italian about blocking ChatGPT

OpenAI’s statement to users trying to access ChatGPT from an Italian IP address (Screenshot: Natasha Lomas/TechCrunch)

ABOVE Friday the ensure announced it had opened an investigation into ChatGPT for suspected violations of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – saying it was concerned OpenAI had improperly processed Italians’ data France.

OpenAI does not appear to notify anyone with online data that it finds and uses to train technology, such as by gathering information from Internet forums. It’s also not entirely open about the data it’s processing — certainly not for the latest version of its model, the GPT-4. And while the training data it uses may have been publicly available (in the sense of being posted online), GDPR still contains principles of transparency — suggesting that both its users and those with the data it uses. collection must be notified.

In it declare yesterday ensure also points to the lack of any systems to prevent minors from accessing technology, such as raising the child safety flag — for example, note that there is no age verification feature to prevent access inappropriate access.

In addition, the regulator has raised concerns about the accuracy of the information the chatbot provides.

ChatGPT and other generalized AI chatbots are sometimes known to generate false information about named individuals – a flaw that AI makers refer to as “hallucinations”. This seems problematic in the EU because GDPR gives individuals a set of rights over their information — including the right to correct misinformation. And, for now, it’s unclear if OpenAI has a system in place where users can ask the chatbot to stop lying about them.

The San Francisco-based company has yet to respond to our request for comment on guarantee of investigation. But in a public statement to users geoblocked in Italy, they stated: “We are committed to protecting people’s privacy and we believe that we provide ChatGPT in compliance with GDPR and the laws of other privacy rights”.

“We will join with ensure with the goal of restoring your access as soon as possible,” it also wrote, adding: “Many of you have told us that you find ChatGPT useful for everyday tasks and we look forward to making this feature available again soon.”

Despite an upbeat note at the end of the statement, it remains unclear how OpenAI can address the compliance issues raised by this Commission. ensure – Given the wide range of concerns about GDPR, it is posed at the beginning of a further investigation.

EU-wide regulation requires data protection by design and by default — meaning that privacy-focused processes and principles must be embedded in a system that processes people’s data from the outset. Aka, the opposite approach to get the data and apologize later.

Meanwhile, penalties for confirmed GDPR violations can increase to 4% of the data processor’s annual global revenue (or 20 million euros, whichever is greater).

Additionally, since OpenAI has no major EU base, any of the bloc’s data protection authorities are empowered to regulate ChatGPT — meaning all member states’ authorities The other EU can opt in and investigate — and impose fines on any violations it finds. (in relatively short order, as each will only act in their own patch). So it faces the highest GDPR exposure, unprepared to play the forum shopping game that other tech giants have used to delay privacy enforcement in the country. Europe.

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