Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become an integral part of our lives, and its applications are diverse, ranging from virtual assistants to self-driving cars. However, as AI becomes more sophisticated, it also raises concerns about privacy, security, and intellectual property rights.
ChatGPT, the text-generating AI developed by OpenAI, has been making headlines recently not only for its ability to produce human-like text but also for a conflict with the Italian Data Protection Authority. What exactly has happened, and how can it be put into context?
ChatGPT in the Focus of European Data Protection Authorities
The Italian Data Protection Authority has ordered OpenAI to “immediately temporarily restrict” the processing of data from Italian users. The lack of a legal basis for data processing, the absence of an age verification system for children, and insufficient information to users and affected parties whose data is processed by OpenAI were the reasons for this decision.
OpenAI has since resumed the operation of ChatGPT in Italy. The company announced that it has expanded transparency and information obligations, introduced the ability for users to object to the processing of their data for algorithm training purposes, and welcomed the additional demands of the Italian Data Protection Authority from their April order.
ChatGPT has also come under scrutiny in Germany. In consultation with the Conference of Independent Data Protection Supervisory Authorities of the Federal Government and the States (DSK), the Hessian Data Protection Commissioner has requested that OpenAI answer a questionnaire on data processing related to ChatGPT. The questions raised concern the principles of data protection law, the legal basis, data storage, and transparency of processing, particularly regarding whether usage data is used as training data and what sources are used. They also ask about the age limit for using ChatGPT, how compliance is ensured, and whether the consent of guardians is obtained.
The Legal Debate about ChatGPT Continues
The legal controversy surrounding ChatGPT is ongoing. It is expected that other AI applications may face similar issues, particularly those based on personal data, which is often the case with “generative AI” applications.
Moreover, the use of AI-based systems like ChatGPT raises not only data protection issues but also potential copyright problems. There are still many questions about this area, but one thing is clear: AI-based text generators are trained using a large amount of text from various sources, some of which may be unknown. Even if these texts are publicly available, it cannot be ruled out that they are protected by copyright.
If a user employs an AI-based text generator containing copyrighted material (such as copyrighted texts or images), publishing the results of the AI output could be an infringement of copyright. However, it is practically difficult to determine whether a copyright infringement has taken place since texts are not reproduced verbatim, and their sources cannot be named.
Complex and Multifaceted
The legal issues surrounding AI-based systems such as ChatGPT are complex and multifaceted. Data protection and copyright are two of the main areas of concern. While some steps have been taken to address these issues, there is still much to be done to ensure that the use of AI technology is compliant with legal and ethical standards.
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