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Why was ChatGPT banned in Italy? Which other countries have banned ChatGPT?

by Rajni
ban on ChatGPT
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Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized various aspects of our lives, including communication and language processing. ChatGPT gained immense popularity for its ability to generate human-like text and engage in conversational interactions. However, despite its widespread usage and numerous benefits, ChatGPT has faced restrictions and bans in certain countries. In this blog post, we will delve into the case of Italy and explore the reasons behind the ban on ChatGPT in Italy as well as other countries.

[ Suggested read: What is ChatGPT? ]

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Why are countries banning ChatGPT?

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Why did Italy ban ChatGPT?

Surprisingly, Italy’s data protection authority has prohibited the use of OpenAI’s AI chatbot, ChatGPT, within the country. The decision comes in response to privacy concerns raised by the Italian Data Protection Watchdog – Garante. Additionally, they instructed OpenAI to immediately stop processing data of Italian users while an investigation is conducted regarding a data breach that allowed unauthorized access to conversation titles. Garante also issued a warning to OpenAI, mandating them to address the raised concerns within 20 days. Failure to comply may result in a fine of up to $21.7 million or 4 percent of their annual revenues.


Concerns that triggered Italy to ban ChatGPT

Misinformation and Fake News

One of the primary reasons for Italy’s ban on ChatGPT is the growing concern over the spread of misinformation and fake news. The advanced capabilities of ChatGPT make it capable of generating highly convincing and misleading content. This thus poses a significant threat to public trust and can increase the already existing issue of misinformation.

Hate Speech and Offensive Content

Another significant factor contributing to the ban is ChatGPT’s apparent potential to generate hate speech and offensive content. Undoubtedly, ChatGPT poses a risk of producing discriminatory or harmful language. Thus, Italy, like many other countries, aims to curb the dissemination of such content to protect its citizens and promote a healthy online environment.

Ethical Concerns and Accountability

Italy’s ban on ChatGPT also highlights concerns regarding the ethical implications of AI language models. The lack of accountability and transparency in the decision-making processes of these models is a matter of growing concern. Thus, by imposing a ban, Italy is signaling the need for stricter regulations and responsible AI development to address these issues.

Italy’s to-do list for OpenAI for lifting the ChatGPT suspension order included the following points:

  • Firstly, OpenAI must publish an information notice detailing its data processing, including the arrangements and logic of the data processing required for ChatGPT’s operation and the rights afforded to data subjects.
  • Secondly, OpenAI must adopt age-gating measures to prevent minors from accessing the service and implement more robust age verification mechanisms.
  • Thirdly, OpenAI needs to clarify the legal basis it claims for processing people’s data for training its AI, choosing between consent or legitimate interests, and removing references to the performance of a contract.
  • Fourthly, OpenAI must provide users (both registered users and non-users) with the ability to exercise their rights over their personal data, including the right to request corrections or deletion of data generated by ChatGPT.
  • Also, OpenAI should allow users to object to the processing of their data for training the algorithms.
  • OpenAI must conduct a local awareness campaign to inform Italians that their information is being processed to train AI systems.
  • Further, OpenAI has a deadline of April 30 to comply with most of the measures, with a slightly extended deadline of May 15 for the awareness campaign.
  • OpenAI has until May 31 to submit a plan for implementing age verification technology to filter out users below the age of 13 and users aged 13 to 18 without parental consent. The deadline for implementing the more robust age verification system is September 30.
  • Lastly, the Italian data protection authority reserves the right to take additional or different measures based on the findings of its formal inquiries into possible infringements of the legislation.

As we publish this article, Italy has already restored OpenAI’s ChatGPT after OpenAI addressed issues raised by the Italian data protection authority. However, the Italian Data Protection Authority has characterized its action as “temporary” until ChatGPT complies with privacy regulations. It is therefore continuing its investigation of OpenAI.

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What are the measures taken by OpenAI to address the issues raised by Italy?

Age Verification Tool
  • OpenAI has committed to providing a tool for users in Italy to verify their age during the sign-up process for ChatGPT.
  • Consequently, this measure aims to ensure compliance with Italian regulations, which require users to be aged 13 or above.
Improved Privacy Policy Visibility
  • OpenAI has increased the visibility of its privacy policy, making it more accessible and transparent to users.
  • So, this will provide clearer information about data handling and privacy practices.
User Content Opt-Out Form
  • OpenAI has introduced an opt-out form that allows users to request the removal of their content generated by ChatGPT.
  • This gives users more control over their data and content generated through the platform.
Right to Object Form for EU Users
  • OpenAI has implemented a new form specifically for users within the European Union, enabling them to exercise their right to object to the use of their personal data in training AI models.
Mechanisms for Data Accuracy and Erasure
  • OpenAI acknowledges that it is currently unable to fix this flaw of chatbots generating false information about named individuals, However, the company is taking steps to introduce mechanisms that enable data subjects to request the erasure of inaccurate information.
  • By providing a straightforward process for data erasure requests, OpenAI aims to give individuals greater control over their personal information and mitigate the impact of false or misleading content.
Help Center Article on Training Data
  • OpenAI has published a new help center article that provides detailed information on how training data is collected and used.
  • This aims to enhance transparency and clarify OpenAI’s practices.
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Which other EU countries have followed suit?

  • French Investigation: CNIL, the French regulatory authority, has initiated an investigation into ChatGPT following multiple complaints, including one from a member of parliament.
  • Spanish Investigation: Spain’s data protection agency, AEPD, has launched an investigation into OpenAI, the developer of ChatGPT, arguing that AI development should respect individuals’ rights and freedoms.
  • Potential German Action: Germany has expressed the possibility of taking action regarding ChatGPT, although no specific steps have been taken yet.
  • European Data Protection Board’s Role: The European Data Protection Board has announced its intention to facilitate the coordination of member states’ actions concerning ChatGPT. This indicates a collective effort to address the concerns and potential privacy violations associated with the AI chatbot.

These actions and statements reflect the growing attention and scrutiny given to ChatGPT in multiple EU countries. The bans, investigations, and coordination efforts demonstrate a collective commitment to safeguarding privacy and ensuring compliance with data protection regulations in the context of AI development.

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Other countries that have banned ChatGPT

1. China

China is concerned that the United States may use ChatGPT for disseminating misinformation and influencing global narratives. Also, China shares a strained relationship with the US. So, the country has banned ChatGPT. 

2. Russia

Russia has expressed concerns about the potential misuse of AI generative platforms like ChatGPT. Also, Russia shares a strained relationship with Western countries. So, the country is cautious about allowing ChatGPT or similar platforms to influence narratives within the country.

3. Iran

Iran is known for its stringent censorship regulations. It strictly monitors and filters internet traffic. This, thus, leads to restricted access to numerous websites and services. Additionally, the strained relations between Iran and the US have further influenced the unavailability of the US AI chatbot in Iran.

4. North Korea

In North Korea, the government tightly controls internet usage and monitors the online activities of its citizens. The ban on ChatGPT, thus, aligns with the authoritative control exerted by the government of Kim Jong-un.

5. Cuba

Cuba also experiences limited and government-controlled internet access, resulting in blocked websites that are inaccessible to the public. This includes OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the AI-powered chatbot.

6. Syria

In Syria, the government extensively monitors and filters internet traffic. This prevents users from accessing various websites and services. As a result, ChatGPT, developed by a US-based company, is not available in Syria. The country, which already faces challenges with misinformation, aims to mitigate further exposure in this regard.

Additionally, there was a previous ban in Ukraine, which has been lifted, allowing Ukraine to access ChatGPT.

OpenAI’s API usage is limited to specific countries, and a list of eligible countries can be found on their website. Note: This is not an exhaustive list. There are additional countries, where the use of ChatGPT is restricted due to omissions, blocks, or bans.

  • Afghanistan
  • Bhutan
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Eritrea
  • Eswatini
  • Iran
  • Libya
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen

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The concerns over the use of ChatGPT in countries like Italy reflect the complex landscape of AI regulation. The ban highlights the challenges associated with the rapid advancements in AI technologies. Moreover, it also serves as an opportunity for policymakers and developers to collaborate in creating frameworks. This will ensure the responsible use of language models like ChatGPT. Striking a balance between innovation and regulation is essential to harness the potential of AI tools. 

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