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AI bot ChatGPT faces growing scrutiny in Europe

EU lawmakers take first step towards AI curbs
Source: Unsplash

France’s data regulator said on Wednesday it had received two complaints about the AI program ChatGPT, as European authorities deepened their scrutiny of the chatbot days after Italy banned it.

ChatGPT, created by US firm OpenAI, has provided a global hit by demonstrating an ability to generate essays, poems and conversations from the briefest of prompts — as well as passing tough exams.

But Italian regulators said last Friday that the firm had no legal basis to engage in massive data collection and questioned the way it was handling the information it had gathered.

European authorities including those of France, Ireland and Germany have since approached their Italian counterpart to try to establish a common position on ChatGPT.

And the concerns are not limited to Europe — on Tuesday, Canada’s data regulator said it was opening an investigation into OpenAI.

France’s CNIL, regarded as the most powerful European data regulator, confirmed to AFP on Wednesday it had already received two complaints, though it has not yet announced a full investigation.

Zoe Vilain of Janus International, a campaign group, filed the first complaint.

“We are not anti-tech, but we want ethical technology,” she told AFP.

She wrote in her complaint that when she tried to sign up for a ChatGPT account she was not asked for consent to any general terms of use or privacy policy.

The other complaint came from David Libeau, a developer who wrote in his submission he had found personal information about himself when he asked ChatGPT about his profile.

“When I asked for more information, the algorithm started to make up stories about me, creating websites or organising online events that were totally false,” he wrote.

ChatGPT and similar programs are “trained” on huge bodies of text gleaned from the internet and are known to invent answers, though OpenAI said such “hallucinations” were less common with GPT-4, the latest version of the bot.

Last month, billionaire Tesla and Twitter boss Elon Musk joined hundreds of experts in calling for a halt in development of powerful AI systems, a move prompted by the release of GPT-4.

After Italy’s order to halt ChatGPT, OpenAI told AFP that it was “committed to protecting people’s privacy” and believed the tool complied with the law.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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