BERLIN – Germany could follow in Italy’s footsteps by blocking ChatGPT due to data security concerns, Germany’s data protection commissioner told Handelsblatt newspaper in comments published on Monday.
Microsoft-backed MSFT.O OpenAI took ChatGPT offline in Italy on Friday after the national data agency temporarily banned the chatbot and opened an investigation into a suspected breach of privacy rules by the artificial intelligence application.
“In principle, such measures are also possible in Germany,” Ulrich Kelber said, adding that this would fall under the state’s jurisdiction. However, he did not outline any such plans.
Kelber said Germany has requested additional information from Italy about its ban. Privacy watchdogs in France and Ireland said they had also contacted the Italian data regulator to discuss its findings.
“We are following up with the Italian regulator to understand the basis of their action and we will coordinate with all EU data protection authorities on this matter,” said a spokesperson for Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC).
OpenAI had said on Friday that it is actively working to reduce personal data when training its AI systems.
While Ireland’s DPC is the lead EU regulator for many global tech giants under the bloc’s “one stop shop” data regime, it is not the lead regulator for OpenAI, which has no offices in the EU.
Sweden’s privacy watchdog said it has no plans to ban ChatGPT and is not in contact with the Italian watchdog.
The Italian investigation into OpenAI was launched after a cyber security breach last week led to people being shown snippets of other users’ ChatGPT conversations and their financial information.
It accused OpenAI of not checking the age of ChatGPT’s users, who are supposed to be 13 or older. Italy is the first western country to take action against a chatbot powered by artificial intelligence.
Over a nine-hour period, the exposed data included first and last names, billing addresses, credit card types, credit card expiration dates and the last four digits of credit card numbers, according to an email OpenAI sent to an affected customer and seen by the Financial Times.