Italy's data protection authorities have announced a ban on ChatGPT, citing privacy concerns and an investigation into the AI service. The Italian agency claims that ChatGPT lacks an appropriate legal basis for collecting users' personal information, which is used to train the algorithm that generates its responses.

The authorities also accused OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, of neglecting to verify the age of its users and failing to enforce rules prohibiting individuals under 13 from using the service. These younger users could potentially encounter "unsuitable answers" from the chatbot due to their relative developmental stage, the authorities warned.

This recent ban in Italy is just one of several criticisms directed at ChatGPT and the artificial intelligence systems developed by OpenAI. The decision comes on the heels of calls from various experts for a moratorium on the development of new AI tools over concerns that the rapid creation of such systems could pose significant risks.

The European consumer organization BEUC also requested an investigation by EU and national authorities last Thursday. They specifically highlighted the lack of regulation for ChatGPT and similar systems, as well as potential privacy issues. BEUC demanded an immediate inquiry "into the risks of ChatGPT and similar chatbots for European consumers."

Italy's regulators specifically cited a recent data breach in which users claimed they could view other people's chat histories. Although OpenAI does not have an EU office, it does have a designated representative in the European Economic Area who now has 20 days to provide information on measures taken in response to the regulator's concerns.

The number of ChatGPT users in Italy is uncertain, but it is estimated that the app has been used by 100 million people worldwide within its first two months. OpenAI has not yet responded to The Independent's request for comment on the ban.

As of the time of publication, ChatGPT remains accessible in Italy. The ban requires OpenAI to cease processing the data of Italian users until the identified privacy issues are resolved, implying that the company will need to block access to users from Italy proactively.

The Italian ban on ChatGPT signifies growing concerns among regulators worldwide about the potential risks and privacy issues associated with AI-powered services. As these services continue to evolve and become more widespread, it is likely that further scrutiny and regulation will be necessary to address these concerns and ensure the responsible development and use of AI technologies.