Why Was ChatGPT Banned In Italy?

Italy banned ChatGPT

Italy banned ChatGPT

ChatGPT was banned for a month in Italy due to data privacy concerns. How did this happen and what does it mean for the rest of us? What can we do to cope with such a situation? Let’s find out.

A Quick Recap

ChatGPT is an amazing AI chatbot that has changed the way we use the internet and opened up new possibilities that we never dreamed of before. 

Why Did Italy Ban ChatGPT?

It all started in April 2023, when Italy said that they will block ChatGPT over privacy concerns. The Italian watchdog for data protection, also known as Garante, put a stop to ChatGPT and started an investigation over its possible violation of the GDPR (a set of rules that protect how personal data can be used, handled, and kept)

Garante accused OpenAI of not checking ChatGPT users’ ages. As they think that ChatGPT users should be at least 13 years old to avoid exposure to unsuitable answers from the AI.

They also said that OpenAI had no legal reason to train its algorithms using huge amounts of personal data.

How OpenAI React To The Situation

OpenAI admitted that they used the Internet to train its algorithms which might accidentally include some personal information. But they defended themselves by saying that they didn’t specifically look for personal information to train their AI, those information just happened to be there.

But whatever the reason was, OpenAI realized that it was important for users to know which data they were collecting. So while they were fixing this problem for Italian users, OpenAI decided that they had to temporarily ban all Italy IP addresses from ChatGPT.

Welcome Back ChatGPT!

In May 2023, after some measures were taken by OpenAI, the ban was finally removed. 

However, the Gurante also asked for more compliance on OpenAI’s part, especially in informing Italians of what happened and their right to opt out of the processing of using their personal data for training algorithms.

They also said that OpenAI’s training process will be carefully monitored under the umbrella of an ad-hoc task force set up by the European Data Protection Board.

These efforts are made in order to make ChatGPT accessible again in Italy. But with a few conditions. 

The Current State Of ChatGPT In Italy

Now, the good news is that the ban has been lifted and Italians can go back to using ChatGPT normally. But there are some changes that you should be aware of.

When you log in to ChatGPT, you will receive a notice about the age restriction. You have to be at least 18 years old or 13 years old to use the chatbot. This is because ChatGPT can generate some content that may not be suitable for younger audiences.

The notice also clearly states OpenAI's privacy policy and provides a link to their help center where you can learn more about how they train their AI model and what data they collect from you. 

You have to confirm that you agree to these terms and that you meet the age requirements before you can use the chatbot.

What We Have Learned From The Situation

After reviewing the ChatGPT incident in Italy, let’s see what insights we can gain from it.

What To Do If ChatGPT Is Banned?

Let's face it, ChatGPT has become an important part of our lives. We use it for work, study, or research, this AI has changed the way we approach many aspects of our lives. It would be a disaster if we couldn't use it. So what can we do if ChatGPT is banned in our country?

First thing first, VPNs don’t work. We have tried using a VPN to bypass the geo-restriction, but it didn't work. It seems that OpenAI has a way of detecting and blocking VPN users. So don't waste your time and money on VPNs if you are geo-banned by OpenAI.

The only option left is to use an alternative AI chatbot. Lucky for us, there are many other AI chatbots out there. While none of them are as good as ChatGPT, it's better than nothing. Here are some of our suggestions:

- OpenAI's playground: If you can’t access ChatGPT, the playground is the perfect alternative. You can chat with just like GPT, and if you are a plus user, you can also use ChatGPT 4 with your API. 

- Microsoft's Bing: Bing is basically ChatGPT-4 that can search the internet and it is free to use. The only downside is it can only answer 20 questions per session and also sometimes Bing might refuse any of your requests and end the session early. 

- Google's Bard: Google’s latest take on the new AI trend. It’s like GPT-3 with internet access. Since this is still in early development, don’t expect too much from Bard. As it is famous for hallucinating facts even though it has internet access. An overall inferior Bing.

- Perplexity: You can think of this as a slightly better version of Bard. Perplexity is best used for research purposes since it can accurately give you answers to your questions and provide you with the source to fact check-it. 

AI And Information Privacy

One of the biggest concerns about AI like ChatGPT, MidJourney, … is how they handle our personal information. Most AI models are trained on large amounts of data from the Internet which means they are trained on various sources such as books, websites, social media posts, and more. Some of these data may contain sensitive or private information about us or others.

How do we know that these AI models are not leaking our information to third parties or using it for malicious purposes? How do we protect ourselves from hackers or scammers who may exploit these AI models to get our sensitive information?

These are some of the questions that we need to ask ourselves and our governments. We need to have laws and regulations that restrict which data these AI models can access and how they can use it. We also need to have transparency and accountability from the companies and organizations that create and deploy these AI models.

As Sam Altman the CEO of OpenAI has testified before Congress: 

“I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong. And we want to be vocal about that,” “We want to work with the government to prevent that from happening.” 

We are still early in this AI race and regulations are needed for creating a safe environment for the development of AI. In the future, we are hoping to see many laws and regulations to prevent these AIs from going rogue. 

Final Thoughts

ChatGPT is an amazing AI that has many uses and benefits for us. But it also comes with some challenges and responsibilities. We should not take it for granted or abuse it. We should respect its limitations and potential.

We hope this blog has given you some insights into the current state of ChatGPT in Italy and what we have learned from the situation.