ChatGPT available to users in Italy a month after temporary ban

Maker Open AI and Italian authorities confirm that the chatbot is back online in the country.

A smartphone with a displayed ChatGPT logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken February 23, 2023 [File: Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters]

Access to the ChatGPT chatbot has been restored in Italy after its maker OpenAI “addressed or clarified” issues raised by Italy’s data protection authority, Italian authorities and OpenAI have said.

Microsoft Corp-backed OpenAI took ChatGPT offline in Italy last month after the country’s Data Protection Authority, also known as Garante, temporarily banned the chatbot and launched a probe into the artificial intelligence application’s suspected breach of privacy rules.

The Italian Data Protection Authority described its action as provisional “until ChatGPT respects privacy”.

The watchdog said ChatGPT developer OpenAI had 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 further referenced a data breach on March 20 when user conversations and payment information were compromised, a problem the United States firm blamed on a bug.

Garante had also accused OpenAI of failing to check the age of ChatGPT’s users who are supposed to be aged 13 or above. OpenAI said it will offer a tool to verify users’ ages in Italy upon sign-up.

The company said it will provide greater visibility of its privacy policy and user content opt-out form.

It will also provide a new form for European Union users to exercise their right to object to its use of personal data to train its models, a company spokesperson said.

Garante confirmed on Friday that the chatbot was back online in the country, adding that it was continuing its probe of OpenAI.

The watchdog welcomed steps taken so far to address its concerns and said it hoped OpenAI would comply with further requests, in particular on age verification and informing Italians about the use of their data.

Source: News Agencies