Japan warns ChatGPT creator OpenAI over data privacy, says they will take action if needed

Japan’s privacy watchdog has issued a warning to ChatGPT’s parent company OpenAI over collecting users’ personal data without their permission.

By Divyanshi Sharma: ChatGPT launched on November 30, 2022 and gained immense popularity within a short span of time. Initially running on OpenAI’s model GPT- 3.5, ChatGPT was soon being used by people for writing essays, giving content creation ideas, simplifying complex information, composing poetry, and so on. The AI chatbot then got an upgrade when OpenAI announced GPT-4, that could handle even more complex tasks. However, some of you might not have noticed that ChatGPT, in order to serve you better, saves your conversations and has the ability to recall them as well.

OpenAI’s privacy policy about the chatbot also states that the company ‘collects personal information such as name, email address, and payment information when necessary for business purposes’.

In the latest update, the chat-saving feature can be turned off. Yet, the concerns around the AI tool collecting user data are far from over.

In April this year, Italy banned ChatGPT over privacy concerns. And now, Japan’s privacy watchdog has issued a warning to OpenAI over data privacy, saying that they will take action in the future if the need arises.

Japan warns ChatGPT-maker OpenAI

According to a Reuters report, Japan’s Personal Information Protection Commission has issued a warning to ChatGPT-maker OpenAI and has said that the company should ‘minimise the sensitive data it collects for machine learning’. It further added that action might be taken if there are any further concerns.

The watchdog also added that there is a need to ‘balance privacy concerns with potential benefits of generative AI’. The benefits include accelerating innovation and dealing with problems such as climate change. Moreover, as per analytics firm Similarweb, Japan is the third-largest source of traffic to OpenAI’s website.
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, met Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in April ahead of the G7 leaders’ summit. Kishida led a discussion on regulating AI at the event.

Italy’s ChatGPT ban

This is not the first time that privacy concerns around ChatGPT have been raised by a nation. The government of Italy banned ChatGPT in April, citing privacy concerns. OpenAI was asked to restrict the chatbot’s access for users in Italy after the country’s data protection authority accused it of not having a proper age-verification system in place and ‘unlawfully collecting personal data from users’.

A New York Times report had revealed that Italy’s data protection authority has accused ChatGPT’s parent company OpenAI of ‘unlawfully collecting personal data from users’. The Italian government’s watchdog also cited ChatGPT’s data breach that dates back to March 20. The breach was acknowledged by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman as well and he had apologised for the same.

The ban was reversed on April 28, after OpenAI took certain measures to ensure user safety.

Japan’s privacy watchdog has issued a warning to ChatGPT’s parent company OpenAI over collecting users’ personal data without their permission.

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