ChatGPT under investigation by Canadian privacy watchdog

5 Apr 2023

Image: © Rokas/

The Canadian authority is investigating an allegation that OpenAI is collecting, using and disclosing personal information without consent.

Less than a week after ChatGPT was banned in Italy, the AI chatbot and its creator company are under investigation in Canada.

Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner has launched an investigation in response to a complaint, which alleges that OpenAI is collecting, using and disclosing personal information without consent.

“AI technology and its effects on privacy is a priority for my office,” privacy commissioner Philippe Dufresne said. “We need to keep up with – and stay ahead of – fast-moving technological advances, and that is one of my key focus areas as commissioner.”

As the investigation is ongoing, the Canadian watchdog has provided no further information.

All eyes on ChatGPT

The AI chatbot has become the hot topic in the tech world in recent months, rapidly gaining a massive userbase and being incorporated into the services of various tech companies.

ChatGPT was estimated to reach 100m monthly active users by January, roughly two months after its launch.

But concerns have been raised about how this software can be misused, with examples popping up of malware and misinformation.

In December, ChatGPT was banned on Q&A site Stack Overflow. The website claimed the number of correct answers created by ChatGPT was “too low” and that posting answers made by the AI could be “substantially harmful” to the site.

But the biggest blow for the OpenAI chatbot came last week, when Italy’s privacy regulator issued a ban on ChatGPT due to alleged privacy violations.

The Italian authority claims OpenAI processes data inaccurately and lacks a legal basis to justify the mass collection and storage of data. It also claims that there is no age verification system in place for children.

OpenAI told the BBC that it complied with data laws, while the move was criticised by Italy’s prime minister, who described the watchdog’s decision as “disproportionate”, Reuters reports.

The results of Italy’s investigations could spur other data authorities into action if it is shown that there are data risks or GDPR breaches.

The deputy commissioner of Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, Graham Doyle, told the Business Post that the agency had contacted Italy’s watchdog to learn more about why it banned ChatGPT.

Last month, OpenAI faced a wave of criticism online for not disclosing the training details behind GPT-4, its latest AI creation. The company claimed the lack of transparency was due to the “competitive landscape and safety implications” of large language models.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic