The uncertain future of ChatGPT in Europe

During the last months ChatGPT has starred in countless headlines and news, mostly related to its functions, updates, tricks and others. It is normal, since the OpenAI chatbot has marked a before and after not only in the image that ordinary mortals have of artificial intelligence, but also in the relationship with it, something in which it has been absolutely revolutionary. Much as some may think otherwise.

A little over two weeks ago, however, the news was a general drop in the service, which we heard about at the time, and which even led us to reflect on the risks of establishing excessive dependence on these services. However, what at first appeared to be a crash for technical reasons, turned out to actually be an emergency shutdownby the company, after detecting a security problem that led to a data leak.

This could have been an isolated incident, but it wasn’t, as some regulators who already had their eye on ChatGPT, saw in this incident the straw that broke the camel’s back. Thus, last week we learned that the Italian personal data protection regulator (Garante per la Protezione dei Dati Personali, GPDP), had made the decision to block access to ChatGPT in Italy, setting an important precedent in the Union context. Union, since in his press release he stated that the service had violated the GDPR, that is, the European standard that establishes the legal framework regarding data protection.

I already said it then, and I was not wrong, Italy could only be the first, since the rest of the regulators would take good note and, possibly, we would see similar measures in other European countries. Well, as we can read in El Sol de México, the regulators of Germany, France and Ireland They have already contacted their Italian namesake to request more information on the matter, in order to determine if they should also impose, in their corresponding jurisdictions, similar blocks to the one already experienced by ChatGPT in Italy. And it goes without saying that if these countries act in this sense, the chain reaction throughout the old continent (and also beyond it) will grow exponentially.

The uncertain future of ChatGPT in Europe

Regarding the situation of ChatGPT in Spain, Vozpopuli has contacted the AEPD (Spanish Agency for Data Protection), the regulator of our country to request information. The agency is not currently conducting any investigation. nor has it received any complaints in this regard, although they claim to be closely monitoring the situation in case it is necessary to start investigating. At this point, however, we must remember that the presidency of the AEPD has been in an interim state since 2019, with which she was president until then still in office, pending the appointment of the person to replace her.

This does not mean, of course, that Spain will not act in this regard. As I said before, if some of the “heavyweights” in the EU decide to apply the same measures as Italy, we can expect the rest of the regulators, including the AEPD, to act in a similar way.

We must also remember, yes, that the blockage is temporary. Italy gave OpenAI 20 days to fix the deficiencies detected in the service. If the company is able to act in a timely manner, access to ChatGPT will be restored. This is important in itself, but also when it comes to inferring how the rest of the regulators will act. Tomorrow, April 5, a meeting between the GPDP and OpenAI is scheduled, at the request of the technology company, which may mean an advance in the situation of the service in the country.

What I mean by this? Blocking access to a service is not an easy decision, so it makes sense that other European regulators are waiting to see the evolution of the case in Italy. Thus, if OpenAI is able to solve these problems quickly, and Italy decides to lift the blockade, the situation will most likely normalize across Europe. However, if the situation lasts beyond the 20 days granted by Italy, then we can expect movements that complicate the situation of ChatGPT in the entire European common space.

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