Thursday, September 28, 2023

Google’s EU launch of AI chatbot Bard delayed by privacy concerns

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This is due to Google not responding to the privacy concerns of the Irish Data Protection Commission or DPC, the regulator for Google’s Dublin-based EU business.

As first reported by PoliticsThe DPC’s deputy commissioner, Graham Doyle, said Google “recently” notified the organization of an upcoming Bard launch in the EU. The DPC asked for a “data protection impact assessment”, which is required by EU privacy law. Google has not provided the documents, the DPC has asked more questions and Google has yet to respond. As a result, says Doyle, “Bard won’t launch this week.”

This is reported by a Google spokesperson Politics: “We said in May that we wanted to make Bard more widely available, including in the European Union, and that we would do so responsibly, after consultation with experts, regulators and policy makers… As part of that process, we have spoken with privacy regulators to answer their questions and hear feedback.”

In other words, the new breed of AI chatbots remains a privacy concern in the EU, and companies don’t yet know exactly what is required of them. We’ve seen this before with ChatGPT. The bot was temporarily banned in Italy and is currently under investigation in Germany, France and Spain, which also has a pan-EU task force.

The privacy concerns with chatbots like Bard and ChatGPT are several, ranging from inadequate protection for minors to the inability to opt out of the data scrapes that power these systems. Did you know that OpenAI by default records your conversations with ChatGPT and uses this information to train its system? And that the same data can also be examined by human moderators? It’s not necessarily bad, but users aren’t always aware of it when it happens.

It’s not clear exactly what the DPC’s concerns were with Bard, but alternatives like Bing AI and ChatGPT remain available across the EU.

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