Italy to block ChatGPT over data protection issues

The country says OpenAI may be violating the EU's data rules.


Italians might not have access to ChatGPT for much longer. Italy's Privacy Guarantor has ordered ChatGPT blocked over concerns OpenAI is violating the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) through its data handling practices. The regulator claims there's no "legal basis" for OpenAI's bulk collection of data for training ChatGPT's model. The sometimes-inaccurate results also indicate the generative AI isn't processing data correctly, the Guarantor says. Officials are particularly concerned about a flaw leaked sensitive user data last week.

The data agency also says OpenAI isn't doing enough to protect children. While the company says ChatGPT is meant for people over the age of 13, there are no age checks to prevent kids from seeing "absolutely unsuitable" answers, according to officials.

The Guarantor is giving OpenAI 20 days to outline how it will address the issues. If the company doesn't comply, it faces a fine of up to €20 million (about $21.8 million US) or a maximum four percent of its annual worldwide turnover.


We've asked OpenAI for comment and will let you know if we hear back. The company's ChatGPT privacy policy makes clear that trainers can use conversation data to improve the AI, but that it also aggregates or anonymizes that data. OpenAI's terms forbid use by children under 13, while the policy says the company doesn't "knowingly" gather personal info from those underage users.

Italy's action comes just a day after a nonprofit research organization filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) hoping to freeze future ChatGPT releases until OpenAI meets the agency's guidelines on transparency, fairness and clarity. Tech leaders and experts have also called for a half-year pause on AI development to address ethical issues. There's worry that OpenAI doesn't have enough checks on its platforms, and that could now lead to a country-level ban.