Italian privacy watchdog says OpenAI breached data protection laws

The Italian data protection authority (IDA) released a statement on Jan. 29 stating that OpenAI is in breach of its data protection and privacy laws. 

According to the statement, after the IDA’s “fact-finding activity,” it has found that OpenAI’s popular artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot ChatGPT does not adhere to provisions contained in the European Union GDPR.

The “fact-finding” probe was initially launched in November 2023 in an effort to investigate online AI data scraping. It has invited OpenAI to submit any counterclaims regarding the allegations of breaches within 30 days of the notice.

In its final determination of the situation, the IDA said it would consider the work carried out by a task force of national privacy watchdogs set up by the European Data Protection Framework (EDPB).

This comes as a result of Italy’s initial ban on ChatGPT, which it placed on the application back in March 2023. At the time, the country was the first in the world to ban the AI application, following a data breach on the platform that exposed personal user information.

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Regulators in Italy drew criticism for its ChatGPT ban, and a few weeks after its initial clampdown it said it would lift the ban as long as OpenAI met several transparency measures. 

On April 29, the AI chatbot was once again available in Italy. Nonetheless, Italy has been proactively monitoring the situation surrounding AI development and implementation.

In May the government set aside a multi-million dollar fund for workers whose job may be at risk of replacement at the hands of AI. The scheme also intended to enhance the development of digital skills for the targeted at-risk group.

On Jan. 26 Italy fined the city of Trento $54,000 for the misuse of AI technology during a scientific research project that used cameras, microphones and social networks. It was the first Italian city to receive such a fine.

Italy is the host of the G7 presidency for 2024 and has said among other things, it plans to tackleAI regulation as one of its main priorities. The country’s prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, said she intends to hold a special AI-focused session including G7 members before the first leaders’ summit, which is scheduled for June.

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Italian privacy watchdog says OpenAI breached data protection laws


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