OpenAI could face stiff fines after Italy’s top tech watchdog accused the ChatGPT creator of violating Europe’s flagship data privacy law – and the problem is reportedly related to its failure to police content for young users.
Italy’s Data Protection Authority, known as the Garante, said Tuesday it had notified OpenAI about “breaches of data protection.”
The agency did not elaborate on the nature of the apparent breaches or the potential actions it could take against the Sam Altman-run tech firm.
However, Italian regulators are “concerned that younger users may be exposed to inappropriate content generated by the chatbot,” the BBC reported.
OpenAI requires users to be at least 13 years old and those under 18 also must have parent or legal guardian’s permission, according to its website
The Italian watchdog also is said to be focused on OpenAI’s collection of user data to help train its chatbot.
“The Italian DPA concluded that the available evidence pointed to the existence of breaches of the provisions contained in the EU GDPR,” the agency said in a statement.
The announcement marked the latest escalation by Italian officials, who have taken a hardline stance on OpenAI’s booming AI tool since its launch.
Italy temporarily banned ChatGPT last year – the first ban of its kind in Europe – only to reinstate the app after OpenAI responded to its privacy concerns.
Under the European Union’s sweeping General Data Protection Regulation, companies nabbed for violations can be fined by up to 4% of their global revenue.
It’s unclear if OpenAI could face another ban in connection to the Garante’s latest action.
The agency did not immediately return a request for comment.
OpenAI pushed back on the Italian agency’s assertions in a statement.
“We believe our practices align with GDPR and other privacy laws, and we take additional steps to protect people’s data and privacy,” the company said.
OpenAI added that it would “actively work to reduce personal data in training our systems like ChatGPT, which also rejects requests for private or sensitive information about people” and said it plans to “continue to work constructively with the Garante.”
Italy’s crackdown marks another headache for Microsoft-backed OpenAI, which has also faced mounting legal and regulatory scrutiny in the US.
Antitrust watchdogs in both the US and Europe have indicated they are examining the relationship between Microsoft and OpenAI over potential competition concerns.
That scrutiny has escalated since Microsoft played a key role in brokering OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s return after he was briefly fired by the AI giant last year.
Separately, the New York Times slapped OpenAI with a federal copyright infringement lawsuit for allegedly using its articles to train ChatGPT’s large-language model without proper permission or compensation.
With Post wires