Italy’s data regulator has imposed a temporary ban on ChatGPT over the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot’s suspected violation of privacy laws.

The country’s Data Protection Authority has also launched an investigation into the matter.

“No way for ChatGPT to continue processing data in breach of privacy laws,” the regulator’s statement read.

The regulator contended that OpenAI, the company behind the chatbot, has “no legal basis” to collect and process “personal data to ‘train’ the algorithms.”

ChatGPT, which is said to have been used by millions since its launch in November 2022, uses AI to generate human-like responses.

Last week, a data breach was reported that is believed to have compromised the platform users’ financial information and conversations.

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In addition, the regulator alleged that ChatGPT lacked an effective age verification system to ensure that its users are aged 13 years or above.

This “exposes children to receiving responses that are absolutely inappropriate to their age and awareness”.

The development comes amid calls for regulating generative AI platforms such as ChatGPT because of concerns that range from data privacy to job losses.

US-based OpenAI, which is backed by technology giant Microsoft, has 20 days to address the issues and comply with the order.

In an event of non-compliance, the privacy watchdog will impose a fine of €20m or 4% of OpenAI’s global annual turnover.

Responding to the development, an OpenAI spokesperson said: “We actively work to reduce personal data in training our AI systems like ChatGPT because we want our AI to learn about the world, not about private individuals.

“We also believe that AI regulation is necessary — so we look forward to working closely with (authorities in Italy) and educating them on how our systems are built and used.”