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ChatGPT Could Be Blocked ‘In Principle’ in Germany if Needed, Data Protection Chief Says

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

“In principle, such action is also possible in Germany,” Ulrich Kelber said, adding that this would however fall under state jurisdiction. However, he did not outline any current plans to take such action.

Kelber said that Germany has requested further information from Italy on its temporary ban, which prompted Microsoft-backed OpenAI to take ChatGPT offline in the country.

Last week, Italy’s data protection agency said it had opened a probe into OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot over a suspected breach of the artificial intelligence application’s data collection rules.

The agency also accused ChatGPT, which is financially supported by Microsoft, of failing to check the age of its users. The app is supposed to be reserved to people aged 13 and above.

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

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

Since its release last year, ChatGPT has set off a tech 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 launch, making it the fastest-growing consumer application in history, according to a UBS study published last month.

© Thomson Reuters 2023


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