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Italy lifts ban on ChatGPT after data privacy improvements

Update : 29 Apr 2023, 11:38

The hotly debated AI chatbot is back online in Italy after installing new warnings for users and the option to opt-out of having chats be used to train ChatGPT's algorithms.

The artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot, ChatGPT, is once again available to users in Italy after its owners addressed data privacy concerns, an Italian regulator said on Friday.

Italy blocked the site at the end of March after raising concerns about how ChatGPT processes and saves user data.

What changes were made?
Garante, Italy's data protection authority, said ChatGPT has been reinstated "with enhanced transparency and rights for European users."

The move came after OpenAI, the US-based and Microsoft-backed company that developed the chatbot, implemented changes to comply with several data privacy conditions.

The changes include increased transparency on OpenAI's website for how the chatbot processes user data.

The platform now also grants users certain opt-out rights, including being able to toggle off the option for conversations to be used for training ChatGPT's algorithms.

The site now also has checks to protect children under 13, with age verification in place for those accessing the site from Italy.

"ChatGPT is available again for our users in Italy. We are delighted to welcome them back and remain committed to protecting their personal data," an OpenAI spokesperson said.

When viewing the platform from Germany, the new data protection options were also available.

The site also now has a notice making users aware that ChatGPT could produce inaccurate information about "people, places or facts."

Why was ChatGPT banned in Italy?
Italy became the first Western country to take action against ChatGPT at the end of March.

The country's data protection watchdog said its developers did not have a legal basis to justify the storage and collection of users' personal data in order to train the site's algorithms.

Authorities also criticized that inaccurate information produced by the platform was not being handled properly and that children were especially vulnerable to "absolutely unsuitable answers."

ChatGPT has taken the world by storm since it was launched in 2022.

Based on questions or input from users, the chatbot can generate essays, poems, songs, computer code and also news articles.

While its release has been heralded as a milestone in technological advancement, it has also sparked a debate about the possibilities of artificial intelligence and the consequences that could arise.

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