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US Congress bans staff from using Microsoft Copilot

 Copilot imagery from Microsoft.
Copilot imagery from Microsoft.

The US House of Representatives has reportedly prohibited congressional staffers from using Microsoft Copilot as part of a security push.

A report from Axios says the House’s Chief Administrative Officer, Catherine Szpindor, claimed that the AI tool poses a risk due to the potential leakage of data to non-approved cloud services.

As a result, Copilot, an optional generative AI add-on available across the Microsoft productivity suite, is set to be removed from and blocked on all Windows devices controlled by the House.

Microsoft Copilot ban

Microsoft has already revealed more government-oriented tools, including Azure OpenAI Service in Azure Government, which is designed to address some of the security and privacy concerns.

A Microsoft spokesperson added: “We recognize that government users have higher security requirements for data. That's why we announced a roadmap of Microsoft AI tools, like Copilot, that meet federal government security and compliance requirements that we intend to deliver later this year.”

Szpindor’s office told Axios that the ban applies to commercially available Copilot products but that it would be “evaluating the government version when it becomes available and making a determination at that time.”

The House of Representatives isn’t the only body banning the tech, with other governments and enterprises issuing similar bans on generative AI tools over concerns that they could compromise sensitive data.

Guidance for Copilot Studio, a tool for building custom AI copilots, updated on 26 March specifically for government customers, confirms that content is physically separated from non-government customer content, that it’s stored within the US, that it’s only accessible by certain screened Microsoft workers, and that it complies with other safeguards.

As the world continues to navigate emerging AI trends, it’s clear that caution continues to be exercised - recently the White House revealed that all federal agencies must appoint a Chief AI Officer tasked with overseeing the implementation of AI initiatives.

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