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ChatGPT Restored in Italy After Microsoft-Backed OpenAI Responds to Regulator




Microsoft-backed OpenAI took ChatGPT offline in Italy last month after Garante temporarily banned the chatbot.
By Reuters | Updated: 29 April 2023

The ChatGPT chatbot was reactivated in Italy after its maker OpenAI addressed issues raised by Italy’s data protection authority, the agency and the company confirmed on Friday.

Microsoft-backed OpenAI took ChatGPT offline in Italy last month after the country’s data protection authority, also known as Garante, temporarily banned the chatbot and launched a probe over the artificial intelligence application’s suspected breach of privacy rules.

Garante had given a deadline till Sunday to OpenAI to address its concerns for allowing the chatbot to start operating again in the country.

Last month, Garante said ChatGPT has an “absence of any legal basis that justifies the massive collection and storage of personal data” to “train” the chatbot.

Garante had also accused OpenAI of failing to check the age of ChatGPT’s users who are supposed to be aged 13 or above, OpenAI said it will offer a tool to verify users’ ages in Italy upon sign-up.

The company said on Friday it will provide greater visibility of its privacy policy and user content opt-out form.

It will also provide a new form for European Union users to exercise their right to object to its use of personal data to train its models, a company spokesperson said.

The form requires people who want to opt out to provide detailed personal information, including evidence of data processing via relevant prompts.

Garante said it recognises the steps taken to combine technological progress with respect to people’s rights and hopes that the company will continue along this path of compliance with European data protection regulations.

Italy was the first western European country to curb ChatGPT, but its rapid development has attracted attention from lawmakers and regulators in several countries.

A committee of European Union lawmakers on Thursday agreed on new rules that would force companies deploying generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT, to disclose any copyrighted material used to develop their systems.

Following Garante’s interest in ChatGPT, European Data Protection Board, the body that unites Europe’s national privacy watchdogs, set up a task force on the chatbot earlier this month.

Garante said it will continue its probe of ChatGPT and will work with the special task force.

© Thomson Reuters 2023