In March, Italy became the first Western country to temporarily ban access to ChatGPT within its borders. Citing concerns about “unlawful” data collection and the lack of an age-verification mechanism for minors, the country’s data protection agency – Garante – blocked the service, forcing OpenAI to meet a series of requirements to lift the suspension.
Italian users have been able to access the AI system again since April 28, after OpenAI implemented most of the measures ordered by Garante. These relate to age verification, transparency and the rights of both users and non-users.
First, the US-based company has introduced a “welcome back” pop-up window, asking users to confirm that they are over 18 years old, or that they have parental consent if they are between 13 and 18 years old. are. They must also provide their date of birth on the login page to gain access.
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By clicking on the links, users can get information about what kind of data is processed for training purposes and under what conditions. OpenAI has now clarified that it will continue to process certain types of data on a contract basis to enable the performance of its services, but for algorithm training, data processing will be on the legal basis of legitimate interest.
In order to better enable users and non-users to exercise their rights, as requested by Garante, the company has further included an opt-out form for the processing of personal data. Users can also get takedown for inaccurate information, though OpenAI claims for now that it’s “technically impossible” to issue rectifications.
While the Italian regulator welcomed OpenAI’s new measures, it called on the company to also comply with the additional requests it ordered.
In addition to the age gate, OpenAI should introduce an age verification system that prevents minors from using the service. It should also run a campaign to inform Italians that their personal data may have been used for ChatGPT’s training, while raising awareness of the new information policy and associated data rights.
The Italian office said that it “acknowledges the steps forward OpenAI has taken to reconcile technological advancements with respect for individuals’ rights and hopes the company will continue its efforts to comply with European data protection law.” Nevertheless, it will continue its investigation into the company’s GDPR compliance.
While Italy’s ChatGPT ban lasted no more than a month, it marks the Western world’s first attempt to regulate a generative AI tool like OpenAI’s model. The company’s compliance may also set a precedent for other European countries — with several other data protection authorities (including those of France, Ireland and Spain) with attention to developments.