Access to the ChatGPT chatbot has been restored in Italy after it was temporarily banned by the Italian data-protection authority, Garante, at the beginning of April over privacy concerns. OpenAI, the company behind the chatbot, which is backed by Microsoft, said it had successfully addressed the issues raised by the authority.

To address the privacy concerns, OpenAI has made its privacy policy more accessible to people before they register for ChatGPT. It has also created a new tool to verify the age of users, in compliance with Garante’s concerns that OpenAI was not checking the age of ChatGPT’s users, who are supposed to be aged 13 or above.

OpenAI’s spokesperson said the company would offer a tool to verify users’ ages in Italy upon sign-up. The company would also provide a new form for European Union users to exercise their right to object to its use of personal data to train its models. These measures were welcomed by Garante, but the regulator has called for even more compliance, particularly around implementing an age verification system and conducting an information campaign to inform Italians of what happened, as well as of their right to opt-out from the processing of their personal data for training algorithms.

Garante said it would continue its “fact-finding activities regarding OpenAI also under the umbrella of the ad-hoc task force that was set up by the European Data Protection Board.”

ChatBot - ChatGPT

OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT, was launched in November 2022, and since then, millions of people have used it. The chatbot is designed to answer questions using natural, human-like language, and it can also mimic other writing styles. Microsoft has spent billions of dollars on it, and it was added to Bing last month.

In addition, OpenAI has announced that it will embed a version of the technology in its Office apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. The company is continuing ongoing constructive discussions with Garante and appreciates the regulator’s collaborative approach.

Meanwhile, Google’s rival artificial-intelligence chatbot, Bard, is now available, but only to specific users over the age of 18. The launch of ChatGPT and Bard marks an era of increased use of AI-powered chatbots in a range of industries. However, with this increased use comes concerns around privacy and the use of personal data. The measures taken by OpenAI in response to Garante’s concerns demonstrate the importance of companies taking data privacy seriously, and implementing measures to address concerns when they are raised.

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