On 31 March 2023, the Italian Personal Data Protection Authority decided to block ChatGPT in the country with immediate effect. Specifically, this means "the temporary restriction of the processing of data of Italian users against OpenAI".
At the center of all the months-long debates is the conversational agent, based on the GPT-4 language model and developed by OpenAI, which is accused of several evils.
First, the Authority points out that ChatGPT was the subject of a major data leak on 20 March, when user conversations, e-mail addresses and phone numbers, as well as payment information of subscribers to ChatGPT Plus, the platform's paid offering, were made public by a bug.
According to the Italian institution, the most serious flaw in the OpenAI service was the lack of a message warning users of a security breach. It also denounced the massive collection and storage of personal data used to train ChatGPT's AI, which in its current form is illegal.
The other criticism of ChatGPT is the lack of age verification for its users, although ChatGPT should not be accessible to those under 13 years old. The Authority is concerned that ChatGPT "exposes minors to responses that are completely inappropriate for their developmental level".
Italy indicated that ChatGPT has 20 days to provide it with the measures it has taken to address all the complaints raised. If OpenAI fails to act within this period, it could be fined up to 20 million euros or up to 4% of its annual international turnover.
According to CNN, Italy also wants to know how American ChatGPT uses the large amount of personal data it collects.
It is not (yet) known how France, the Netherlands, Belgium and other countries will react.