Italy has taken the world by surprise by imposing a temporary ban on ChatGPT, accusing the OpenAI chatbot of illicitly collecting users’ personal data and lacking age-verification tools. The Italian Data Protection Authority (GPDP) has launched an investigation against the company led by Sam Altman. The order from GPDP directs OpenAI to suspend the processing and collecting of personal data of users within Italy, following recent revelations of sensitive user information exposure on ChatGPT Plus.
The Italian regulator’s announcement is the first of its kind in the European Union. While Italy is blocking ChatGPT’s data collection and processing of personal information, the actual scope of the measure remains unclear. It is unknown whether the OpenAI chatbot will remain accessible in Italy with limitations, or if access to the platform will be completely prohibited during the investigation.
The GPDP emphasizes that it does not want the US-based startup to use Italian citizens’ personal data for AI training. It also notes that while OpenAI’s terms and conditions state ChatGPT is for users over 13, there are no tools to verify this, raising concerns about minors’ exposure to inappropriate content. OpenAI now has 20 days to communicate its plan to meet the Italian regulator’s requirements or risk a fine of up to 20 million euros or 4% of its global annual turnover. OpenAI has not yet commented publicly on the ChatGPT ban in Italy.