Italy temporarily banned ChatGPT in March this year. Now, the country’s data protection authority Garante is reportedly planning to probe other AI platforms. According to a report by Reuters, a top official has said that Italy is planning to hire AI experts as it ramps up scrutiny of the powerful technology after the ChatGPT ban.
What is Garante
Garante is one of the 31 national data protection authorities that are responsible for overseeing Europe’s data privacy regime, also known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The Italian regulatory body was the first one to ban AI chatbot firm Replika, impose fines on facial recognition software maker Clearview AI and restrict TikTok in Europe. Garante also cited a suspected breach of privacy rules while banning and launching a probe on ChatGPT in March.
What Garante has to say about generative AI models
Seeing the success of ChatGPT, other tech majors like Google-parent Alphabet and Facebook-owner Meta are also trying to promote their versions of AI chatbots. This has prompted lawmakers and governments around the world to contemplate AI regulation.
“We plan to kick off a wide-scope review of generative and machine learning AI applications which are available online because we want to understand if these new tools are addressing issues linked to data protection and privacy laws compliance – and we will start new probes if needed,” said Agostino Ghiglia, a member of Garante’s board.
The latest move shows how some regulators are depending on existing laws to control a technology that has the potential to alter the way societies and businesses operate.
“We are looking for three AI advisers because we are aware AI tools are evolving very quickly and we need experts with a tech background to help us in our data protection activity,” Ghiglia added.
Garante’s crackdown on ChatGPT
Garante used provisions of GDPR in its crackdown on ChatGPT. The regulatory body particularly used the provisions that protect children. The board also used provisions that grant individuals the right to request cancellation and object to the use of their data.
ChatGPT maker OpenAI has made some changes to its chatbot to comply with the country’s regulations. “Members of the Garante board often become aware of potential breaches of privacy laws because we simply explore digital tools and applications once they are available,” Ghiglia noted.
It may take years for potential new legislation regulating AI to come into force. “We explored ChatGPT and realised it was not compliant with EU data privacy rules. That’s why we decided to act swiftly with ChatGPT,” Ghiglia added.