EU privacy regulators to create task force to investigate ChatGPT

The move comes after a number of data privacy regulators from across Europe raised concerns about whether the chatbot is compliant with the EU's GDPR privacy law.

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The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) plans to launch a dedicated task force to investigate ChatGPT after a number of European privacy watchdogs raised concerns about whether the technology is compliant with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Europe's national privacy regulators said on Thursday that the decision came following discussions about recent enforcement action undertaken by the Italian data protection authority against OpenAI regarding its ChatGPT service.

In a statement posted on its website, the EDPB said the task force was intended to “foster cooperation and to exchange information on possible enforcement actions conducted by data protection authorities.”

Last month, Italy’s data privacy regulator issued a temporary ban against ChatGPT over alleged privacy violations relating to the chatbot’s collection and storage of personal data. Italy's guarantor for the protection of personal data ordered the temporary halt on the processing of Italian users’ data by ChatGPT’s parent firm OpenAI, unless it complied with EU privacy laws.

In order to have the service reinstated, the Italian guarantor outlined a list of data protection requirements that OpenAI must comply with, including increased transparency into how ChatGPT processes data, the right for nonusers to opt out of having their data processed, and an age-gating system for signing up to the service.

In the wake of the ban, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman tweeted: “We of course defer to the Italian government and have ceased offering ChatGPT in Italy (though we think we are following all privacy laws).”

The discussion of ChatGPT was added to the EDPB's agenda following a request from the Spanish Agency for Data Protection (AEPD), which asked for the matter to be included in the EDPB’s plenary meeting. Since then, the AEPD has further announced it has initiated an investigation into OpenAI for a possible breach of regulations, and would be coordinating with its European counterparts on the committee.

Elsewhere in Europe, CNIL, the French privacy watchdog, is also reportedly investigating five complaints against the chatbot, including one made by Eric Botheral, a member of the National Asembly — France's lower house of Parliament — who represents the Côtes d'Armor.

Despite the concerns, while France's Digital Minister Jean-Noël Barrot thinks ChatGPT doesn't respect privacy laws, in an interview with La Tribune, he ultimately argued against banning it.

OpenAI has not responded to requests for comment.

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