German Data Regulator to Intensify ChatGPT Probe

Data Agency for Rhineland-Palatinate Area Will Send Additional Questions to OpenAI
German Data Regulator to Intensify ChatGPT Probe
The data regulator for the southwest German region of Rhineland-Palatinate has more questions for ChatGPT developer OpenAI. (Image: Shutterstock)

A German data regulator said it will deepen its investigation of ChatGPT maker OpenAI to determine if the company's data processing requirements comply with European privacy law.

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In April, the data regulator for the southwest German region of Rhineland-Palatinate launched an inquiry into San Francisco-based OpenAI. The probe aimed to check if ChatGPT processed data, including that of children, in accordance with the General Data Privacy Regulation.

In an update on Friday, the agency said it will send additional questions seeking clarification on how the company processes sensitive user data related to race, religion and political opinion.

In particular, the intensified probe will focus on the degree to which ChatGPT guarantees users' rights to access their personal information and delete it when requested.

Increasing scrutiny of OpenAI comes as the European Union is set to finalize the world's first comprehensive AI regulation. World political and tech leaders are also set to gather in Bletchley Park in the United Kingdom on Wednesday and Thursday as part of the AI Safety Summit to discuss the risk posed by large language models and other cutting-edge AI systems that could pose potential existential risk.

"Artificial intelligence must be understandable and explainable, and this is the only way it can be controlled and measured against the legitimate norms and values of our society," Dieter Kugelmann, the state commissioner for data protection and freedom of information, said in a machine translation of his German statement. "That's why we're putting a lot of effort into checking ChatGPT and promoting even more transparency with our new questions," he said.

The German regulator's investigation was launched by the newly formed ChatGPT task force set up by the European Data Protection Board in April. The task force formed in the wake of increasing privacy probes into ChatGPT across Europe and seeks to coordinate information sharing regarding the software among other data protection agencies (see: European Scrutiny of ChatGPT Grows as Probes Increase ).

In Europe, OpenAI currently faces investigations in France, Spain and Poland.

A spokesperson for the Rhineland-Palatinate said OpenAI's response will be used by the agency to decide the course of action in regulating the tech in the future. "Close and diligent evaluation of the expected answers is not likely to be completed before the end of this year," the spokesperson said.

OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

About the Author

Akshaya Asokan

Akshaya Asokan

Senior Correspondent, ISMG

Asokan is a U.K.-based senior correspondent for Information Security Media Group's global news desk. She previously worked with IDG and other publications, reporting on developments in technology, minority rights and education.

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