Italy has banned ChatGPT due to concerns about privacy.

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Italy has taken the unprecedented step of blocking the advanced chatbot, ChatGPT, becoming the first Western nation to do so. The country’s data-protection authority cited concerns over privacy relating to the model, created by US start-up OpenAI and backed by Microsoft.

OpenAI said it complied with privacy laws, but the Italian regulator announced an immediate ban and investigation of OpenAI. Millions of people have used ChatGPT since its launch in November 2022. The technology, which can mimic human-like language and even writing styles, is also causing concern over potential risks of AI, including the spreading of misinformation and bias.

The Italian watchdog said it would investigate whether OpenAI complied with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which governs the way in which personal data is used, processed, and stored. The app had also experienced a data breach involving user conversations and payment information. The Italian data-protection authority has given OpenAI 20 days to address its concerns or face a fine of up to €20m ($21.7m) or 4% of annual revenues.

Over the last few months, there has been a surge in the use of artificial intelligence (AI), with OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT at the forefront of this trend. In fact, ChatGPT has been hailed by billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates as the most “revolutionary” technology of the last 40 years.

Despite its global popularity, ChatGPT has recently been dealt a significant blow. Italy has reportedly banned the AI tool due to concerns over privacy. Specifically, the country’s data protection authority has accused OpenAI of stealing user data and failing to implement an age-verification system to protect minors from inappropriate content.

This marks the first known instance of a government blocking an AI tool, with OpenAI intentionally making ChatGPT inaccessible in China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. In response to the ban, ChatGPT founder Sam Altman expressed his admiration for Italy and stated that they are following all privacy laws. Nevertheless, the company has ceased offering the service in Italy and hopes to resume operations in the country in the near future.

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