ROME (Reuters) – Italy’s competitiveness will suffer relative to European Union peers if the popular ChatGPT chatbot is not reactivated soon, Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini said on Tuesday.
Microsoft-backed OpenAI took ChatGPT offline in Italy on Friday after the national data protection agency raised concerns over possible privacy violations, and for failing to verify that users were aged 13 or above.
Italy’s data authority, also known as Garante, said it would have a video-conference meeting on Wednesday evening with OpenAI’s representatives, after the company expressed its readiness to cooperate.
“This is a work tool that many young people, many companies, many start-ups were using and I hope that they can use it again as soon as possible, because otherwise Italy will have a gap compared to all other European countries,” Salvini said.
Speaking at the Foreign Press Association in Rome, he said he respected the independence of the Italian data regulator and hoped the European Commission would intervene to deal with the issue at an EU level.
Generative artificial intelligence, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, relies on algorithms to produce remarkably human responses to text queries based on analysing large volumes of data, some of which may be owned by internet users.
Privacy regulators in France and Ireland have reached out to counterparts in Italy to find out about its probe, and Germany could follow in Italy’s footsteps, the German commissioner for data protection told the Handelsblatt newspaper on Monday.
Salvini had previously called the Italian curbs on ChatGPT’s services “disproportionate”.
“If only one (EU) country out of 27 has made this choice, either the other 26 are distracted, tolerant and uninterested, or there has clearly been too much zeal,” the minister said on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Alvise Armellini and Elisa Anzolin; Editing by Mark Potter)