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ChatGPT ban: OpenAI vows to cooperate with Italian privacy watchdog

OpenIA Italy
The wildly popular chatbot service is still embroiled in a data protection affair closely watched by other countries. After speaking with the Italian Privacy Authority, which signalled a willingness to solve the issue quickly, the company vowed to provide a roadmap to allay its concerns

OpenAI vows to cooperate with Italian authorities. The company behind ChatGPT “confirmed [its] willingness to cooperate” with the Italian Privacy Authority to address the data protection concerns that caused OpenAI to suspend the service in Italy – a first for the global West.

  • On Wednesday evening, representatives from the US-based company met virtually with members of the Authority to discuss the matter.
  • They believe they comply with applicable personal data protection laws, reads an official statement from the Authority, but are nonetheless committed to “enhancing transparency in the use of data subjects’ personal data and existing mechanisms to exercise data subject rights and safeguards for children” – the two main concerns flagged by the Authority.

Who was there. OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman took part in the virtual meeting, as well as Che Chang, Deputy General Counsel, Anna Makaniu, Head of Public Policy, and Ashley Pantuliano, Associate General Counsel. The entire panel of the Italian Authority – composed of President Pasquale Stanzione, VP Ginevra Cerrina Feroni, Agostino Ghiglia and Guido Scorza – sat on the other end of the table.

The Authority’s line. The Italian privacy watchdog emphasised that “this exercise was in no way meant to hamper the development of AI and technological innovation.” However, reads the statement, the Authority “reiterated the importance of complying with the legislation protecting personal data of Italian and European individuals.”

  • As Professor Vincenzo Zeno-Zencovich told Decode39, since the flagged data protection issues are covered by common European law, other EU countries might soon follow in Italy’s footsteps.

A global reckoning. France, Ireland and Germany are already studying the Italian case, as is Japan. Meanwhile, Canada has opened an investigation into OpenAI after a complaint about the unlawful collection, use and disclosure of personal data). And on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden called on tech companies to make sure their products are safe. 

What’s next? OpenAI vowed to provide the Authority with a document setting out the measures to address its requests by Thursday, April 6 – meaning it aims to solve the issue as soon as possible. This document will set the course on the matter: if the Authority finds OpenAI’s stance acceptable, the company might just be saved from further immediate disciplinary actions. Until then, ChatGPT remains suspended in Italy.

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