Italian Watchdog Increases AI Monitoring After Temporary ChatGPT Ban


Italy’s data protection authority Garante is ramping up its use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) scrutineering and has taken steps to hire dedicated AI experts. This move follows the agency’s takedown of the popular AI chatbot company ChatGPT in March, making Garante the first data protection agency to implement such a ban.

Garante is a standout amongst the other 31 European data protection authorities that oversee GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation. To better understand the implications of generative machine learning and AI applications available online, the agency is planning a wide-ranging review and is prepared to take action if needed.

Agostino Ghiglia, a member of Garante’s board, has discussed the agency’s plans to hire three AI advisers in order to help them stay up-to-date with the ever-evolving AI technology. The other board members are all lawyers, and despite the agency having only 144 staff, Ghiglia believes that hiring experts with a tech background will help keep Garante up to date with the latest advancements.

Garante cited GDPR provisions like the protection of minors and granting of the right to request removal of personal data as justification for acting swiftly against ChatGPT. The agency’s response caused other big tech companies such as Alphabet and Meta to promote their own AI applications. As a result, various governments around the world have started various debates to legislate the powerful technology in the years ahead.

Not only does the action taken by Garante offer a warning to other AI companies, but it also has drawn attention to the power of existing legislation. Ghiglia also discusses how he and other board members often become aware of potential privacy breaches simply by exploring digital tools and applications when they become available.

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It is hoped that with new legislation and Garante’s actions, AI companies will think twice about their compliance with data protection and privacy laws, and with its new AI advisers, Garante will be well equipped to take further action if needed.

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