ChatGPT is currently on everyone’s lips. With the release of the chatbot, many people are predicting a major rethink and restructuring of the entire labor market. On top of that, the education sector is already discussing the effects on teaching at schools and universities. The big issue of data protection is sometimes left by the wayside. Italy, for its part, as a major EU country, has already drawn the consequences for itself and pulled the plug on ChatGPT before the service could even gain momentum among the masses. This decision is also making waves in Germany. When asked, the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection has now said that blocking the service could well be possible in this country as well.
ChatGPT has been blocked in Italy
With ChatGPT, the first really big chatbot has seen the light of day. And this one is believed in part by gigantic tech corporations. Investments like the $10 billion Microsoft has put into OpenAI, the developer behind ChatGPT, make this clear. And the possibilities are immense. For example, artificial intelligence based on gigantic databases can not only create texts that look as if a human had written them. On top of that, the AI can analyze even complex issues in a targeted manner and is capable of a proper dialog with its user. In some cases, it is astonishing to see the creative streak behind the chatbot. According to experts, however, one should not get carried away. After all, the program is still based on computer technology and not real intelligence.
The chatbot is fed massive amounts of data every day, which is why it often has the right answer ready, even for current topics. But it is precisely the data that is making data protectionists skeptical. In Italy, suspected violations of data protection law by the AI have already led to the service being blocked. That has now caused a very similar debate to flare up in Germany. Ulrich Kelber, Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, can certainly understand the approach in Italy. He told the Handelsblatt via his spokesperson that a similar reasoning could also lead to a block in this country. However, headwind is coming from the German Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs. Most likely, this sees a gigantic potential in ChatGPT, which one does not want to withhold from the companies in this country.
Protection of minors also questionable
If you take a closer look at the reasoning of the Italian data protection experts, it becomes clear that it is not data protection alone that speaks against the rampant use of ChatGPT. On top of that, the responsible authorities have argued with a disregard for the protection of minors. This is where ChatGPT’s database comes into play again. OpenAI feeds its chatbot daily with data sets that are freely accessible on the Internet. Accordingly, this also includes forum entries or customer reviews, for example. Of course, these can also come from young people. However, those affected have never given their consent to this data collection. The issue is now likely to affect the data protection authorities of the individual German states. After all, Kelber has already asked for an exchange of information with his Italian colleagues, according to his spokeswoman.
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All-inclusive data protection in EU under criticism
Meanwhile, criticism hails from the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport against the approach in Italy. After all, a common line needs to be found at EU level on chatbots such as ChatGPT in particular and artificial intelligence in general. Going it alone makes little sense here, as it demonizes such services instead of adapting them to our understanding of values. From the ministry’s point of view, the goal is to become “the global pioneer for trustworthy AI,” as a spokesperson told Handelsblatt.