Italy Data Protection Office Plans Broader AI Review

Itay’s data protection office is planning a broader review of AI platforms following its short-term ban on OpenAI’s ChatGPT, an official has said.

The Garante agency is also planning to hire AI experts to supplement its staff, who are largely trained in the field of law, Garante board member Agostino Ghiglia told Reuters.

He said the Garante planned to begin a “wide-scope review of generative and machine learning AI applications” in order to understand if the tools are addressing data protection and privacy compliance.

“We will start new probes, if needed,” Ghiglia added.

Closer scrutiny

He said the agency is looking to hire three AI specialists as “AI tools are evolving very quickly”.

The Garante briefly banned ChatGPT in March over data privacy concerns, allowing the chatbot to operate once again in Italy in late April after OpenAI met multiple conditions.

The agency also banned AI chatbot Replika in February and has been ahead of others in fining Clearview AI and restricting ByteDance’s TikTok.

Governments around the world are looking for ways to respond to a sudden surge of interest around generative AI tools that can produce human-like content including text and images.

Several countries or blocs – including the EU and the US – are working on new laws, but those could take years to come into effect.

Evolving field

This was why the Garante “decided to act quickly with ChatGPT” to apply existing regulations, Ghiglia said.

OpenAI made changes to the Italian version of ChatGPT in April including adding information to its website about how it collects and uses data and trains the algorithms powering the chatbot, and providing EU users with a new form allowing them to object to having their data used for training.

The company also added a tool to verify users’ ages when signing up.

“ChatGPT is available again to our users in Italy,” the company said at the end of April. “We are excited to welcome them back, and we remain dedicated to protecting their privacy.”

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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