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  • Writer's pictureTeresa Pace

The Italian data protection authority asserts that OpenAI has violated data protection laws.

Updated: Jan 31

OpenAI has been informed by the Italian data protection authority that it is in violation of the country's data protection and privacy laws. The Italian Data Protection Authority (IDPA) released a statement on January 29, asserting that OpenAI has breached data protection regulations. Following a fact-finding investigation initiated in November 2023 to examine online AI data scraping, the IDPA concluded that OpenAI's popular AI chatbot, ChatGPT, does not comply with the provisions outlined in the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation.

The IDPA has extended an invitation to OpenAI to present any counterclaims regarding the alleged breaches within 30 days of receiving the notice. The IDPA stated that it would take into account the findings of a task force consisting of national privacy watchdogs established by the European Data Protection Framework when making its final determination.

This development follows Italy's initial ban on ChatGPT in March 2023, making it the first country globally to ban the AI chatbot due to a data breach that exposed users' personal information. Italy faced criticism for the ban, and after a few weeks, it announced the lifting of the ban contingent on OpenAI meeting various transparency measures. On April 29, ChatGPT became available again in Italy. However, Italy has continued to actively monitor developments in AI development and implementation.

In May 2023, the Italian government allocated a multimillion-dollar fund to support workers whose jobs might be at risk due to AI and aimed to enhance digital skills for this vulnerable group. On January 26, Italy fined the city of Trento $54,000 for the misuse of AI technology in a scientific research project involving cameras, microphones, and social networks—the first such fine for an Italian city.

As the host of the Group of Seven (G7) presidency for 2024, Italy has outlined plans to prioritize AI regulation. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed the intention to hold a dedicated AI-focused session with G7 members before the scheduled leaders' summit in June.

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