Germany may be the next country in line to ban the ChatGPT AI program.
According to comments from the German commissioner for data protection, banning Microsoft's popular OpenAI project is “possible.”
Italy has already banned the chatbot, citing data security concerns and a suspected breach of users' data privacy. German's decision may hinge on learning more about the reasoning behind the Italian regulator's call.
ChatGPT has been praised for its ability to deliver articulate conversational responses on a wide range of topics. The AI tech has a lot of big potential business applications. But data privacy concerns are just the latest growing pain for the tech, which has also picked up a reputation for factual inaccuracies.
Why Did Italy Ban ChatGPT?
The Italian Data Protection Authority officially blocked ChatGPT last Friday, saying that the program was potentially violating European Union data protection rules.
The ban is temporary, but will last “until ChatGPT respects privacy,” and it's unclear what will need to change in order to allow the chatbot to be restored. In response to the ban, OpenAI has disabled ChatGPT for Italian users while stating that it does not believe the program violates Europe's privacy regulations.
Italy's ban marks the first government-issued blockage of ChatGPT, or “the first nation-scale restriction of a mainstream AI platform by a democracy,” as Alp Toker, director of the advocacy group NetBlocks, told the Associated Press.
But it may not be the last. Just a few days later, other countries are already signaling a willingness to follow suit.
“In principle, such action is also possible in Germany,” Ulrich Kelber, the German commissioner for data protection, said in a statement about Italy's ban. Kelber notes that states would have jurisdiction, and did not explain any further plans to ban the program.
France and Ireland regulators are also invested in learning more about Italy's reasoning, and both say they have contacted the Italian data security watchdog for further discussion.
Will ChatGPT Bans Impact Me?
The application is now baked into some Microsoft features — it's already powering a new tool called Microsoft Security Copilot that aims analyze cyberattacks — and will likely be used in many more services for Microsoft or third-party apps in the near future. But these effects probably won't be impacted.
Any potential bans on ChatGPT aren't likely to have ripple effects for those living in Italy or other countries beyond preventing them from accessing the online chatbot directly. Italy's problem with the service appears to be focused on how the app registers new users and what it does with their personal data afterwards.
ChatGPT (and all its rival chatbots) can emerge relatively unscathed from the whole issue once it resolves the specific problems Italy has with it, but the affair is a great reminder for one concern: Any tech companies operating in Europe must constantly keep user data privacy concerns front and center.