The body that unites Europe’s national privacy watchdogs said on Thursday it had set up a task force on ChatGPT, a potentially important first step toward a common policy on setting privacy rules on artificial intelligence.
The move by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) follows a unilateral move by Italy last month to curb ChatGPT – a stance that Germany’s commissioner for data protection said could be followed in Europe’s biggest economy. Spain’s AEPD watchdog said on Thursday that it too would launch a preliminary investigation into potential data breaches by ChatGPT.
ChatGPT, an AI program that grabbed the public’s attention for its ability to write answers quickly to a wide range of queries, has grown to be the fastest-growing consumer application in history with more than 100 million monthly active users, while raising questions about threats it may pose to safety, privacy and jobs.
Experts, US government and several other European governments have also expressed concern about the rapid growth of adoption of ChatGPT and similar AI products.
“The EDPB members discussed the recent enforcement action undertaken by the Italian data protection authority against OpenAI about the ChatGPT service,” the statement said.
“The EDPB decided to launch a dedicated task force to foster cooperation and to exchange information on possible enforcement actions conducted by data protection authorities.”
A source at one national watchdog who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media said member states hoped to align their policy positions but this would take time.
The source said member states were not seeking to punish or make rules that will affect Microsoft-backed ChatGPT owner OpenAI, but rather to create general policies that “are transparent.”
They said attendees at Thursday’s meeting included policy experts who presented opinions and exchanged ideas, rather than being decision makers.
The EDPB is an independent body that oversees data protection rules in the European Union, and it is composed of national data protection watchdogs.
The organization could not immediately be reached for comment.
The discussion of ChatGPT was added to the body’s agenda following a request from Spain to discuss the matter earlier this week.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
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