ChatGPT could be blocked ‘in principle’ in Germany if necessary, says data protection chief

ChatGPT could be blocked ‘in principle’ in Germany if necessary, says data protection chief

ChatGPT could be blocked 'in principle' in Germany if necessary, says data protection chief

Germany could follow in Italy’s footsteps by blocking ChatGPT for data security reasons, Germany’s data protection commissioner told the Handelsblatt newspaper in comments published on Monday.

“In principle, such an action is also possible in Germany,” said Ulrich Kelber, adding that this would, however, fall within the competence of the state. However, he has not presented any current plans to take such action.

Kelber said Germany had requested additional information from Italy about its temporary ban, prompting Microsoft-backed OpenAI to take ChatGPT offline in the country.

Last week, Italy’s data protection agency said it had opened an investigation into OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot over an alleged breach of the artificial intelligence app’s data collection rules.

The agency also accused ChatGPT, which is financially backed by Microsoft, of failing to verify the age of its users. The app is meant to be restricted to people aged 13 and over.

The agency said in a note that it had temporarily restricted the chatbot’s use of Italian users’ personal data.

OpenAI did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Since its release last year, ChatGPT has sparked a technology craze, prompting rivals to launch similar products and companies to integrate it or similar technologies into their apps and products.

The Italian agency alleged “the absence of any legal basis that justifies the massive collection and storage of personal data in order to ‘train’ the algorithms underlying the operation of the platform”.

It is estimated to have reached 100 million monthly active users in January, just two months after its launch, making it the fastest growing consumer app in history, according to UBS research published on last month.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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