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Germany considers following Italy in banning ChatGPT

A smartphone with a displayed ChatGPT logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken February 23, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Germany is considering following Italy's lead and banning ChatGPT. Photo: Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Germany may follow Italy's example by banning ChatGPT due to personal information security concerns, claimed the nation's data protection chief.

On Monday, German commissioner for data protection Ulrich Kelber told the Handelsblatt newspaper that his nation could follow Italy's recent ChatGPT ban and issue a similar enforcement.

After Italy's data protection agency launched an investigation into a suspected breach of privacy rules by ChatGPT, Kelber stated that, "in principle, such action is also possible in Germany".

He added that this would fall within the jurisdiction of each of the nation's federal states.

Kelber said that German regulators have been in communication with their Italian counterparts following the ban in Italy.

Read more: China's alternative to ChatGPT: what we know so far | The Crypto Mile

Data privacy watchdogs in other EU nations, such as France and Ireland, have also contacted the Italian data regulator to discuss its findings.

Speaking to Reuters a spokesperson for Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) said: "We are following up with the Italian regulator to understand the basis for their action and we will coordinate with all EU data protection authorities in relation to this matter."

Read more: How ChatGPT could lead to 'mass unemployment' – The Crypto Mile

Ireland's DPC is the lead EU regulator for many global technology giants under the bloc's "one stop shop" data regulatory framework.

However, it has no direct regulatory control over how OpenAI operates within the bloc as the artificial intelligence firm has no offices in the EU.

Italy's ChatGPT ban

Microsoft-backed (MSFT) OpenAI took ChatGPT offline in Italy after the national data agency temporarily banned the chatbot.

On Friday, Italy's data protection regulator, the Italian Data Protection Authority, GPDP, announced that it would ban and investigate OpenAI's ChatGPT "with immediate effect".

The nation's regulator accused OpenAI with neglecting to install a function that prevents minors from using the service and "unlawful collection of personal data".

Read more: Binance: Investors withdraw more than $2bn after enforcement action by US regulators

The GPDP said there was no legal basis to justify "the mass collection and storage of personal data for the purpose of 'training' the algorithms underlying the operation of the platform".

It also said that since there was no way to verify the age of users, the app "exposes minors to absolutely unsuitable answers compared to their degree of development and awareness".

The Italian regulator ordered OpenAI to cease collecting data from Italian customers and to disclose steps that would rectify the complaints made by the nation's independent authority.

US regulator body recieves ChatGPT comp

The Centre for AI and Digital Policy has filed a complaint urging the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to prevent OpenAI from launching new commercial versions beyond its present iteration, called GPT-4.

The centre's complaint was posted on the group's website, where it labeled GPT-4 as "biased, deceptive, and a threat to privacy and public safety".

Read more: OpenAI's GPT-4 is here – how much better is it than ChatGPT?

The formal complaint follows an open letter endorsed by Elon Musk, AI specialists, and industry leaders that has requested a six-month halt in the development of systems more advanced than OpenAI's recently introduced GPT-4, pointing to potential societal risks.

What is ChatGPT?

So what is ChatGPT? Yahoo Finance asked the generative AI application to describe itself as though it were speaking with a 10 year-old.

"ChatGPT is like a super-smart robot friend that can talk to you by typing messages. It's created by computers and can answer your questions, help with homework, or just chat about anything you like. But remember, it's not a real person, just a program designed to sound like one", the chat-bot stated.

It also offered a more technical response, stating that "ChatGPT is an advanced AI language model that generates human-like text responses based on input queries. It leverages the cutting-edge GPT architecture to enable sophisticated natural language understanding and generation".

Millions of people have used ChatGPT since it launched in November 2022, and it has been claimed that the artificial intelligent content generator was the fastest online application in history to reach mass adoption.

Within one month of its inception, the application racked up over one million users, a lightning-fast leap into mass adoption that took social media platform Facebook (META) 10 months and streaming platform Netflix (NFLX) three years to match.

Watch: China's alternative to ChatGPT: what we know so far | The Crypto Mile