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OpenAI Warned By Japan's Privacy Watchdog Against Unauthorised Data Collection

Updated: Jan 5

OpenAI was urged to minimise data collection for machine learning as regulators grapple with governing AI technology.


Japan's privacy watchdog, the Personal Information Protection Commission, issued a warning to OpenAI, the Microsoft-backed startup responsible for the popular ChatGPT chatbot, cautioning against the collection of sensitive data without individuals' consent.

In a statement, the commission emphasised the importance of OpenAI reducing the amount of sensitive data being gathered for machine learning purposes and indicated the possibility of taking further action should additional concerns arise.

As generative artificial intelligence (AI) continues to gain prominence, regulatory bodies worldwide are scrambling to establish comprehensive guidelines for its use. Proponents compare the impact of generative AI to the advent of the internet, underlining the urgency to develop appropriate regulations.

Despite Japan's lag in certain technology trends, the country recognises the need to keep pace with advancements in AI and robotics to sustain productivity as its population declines. The privacy watchdog acknowledged the necessity of striking a balance between privacy concerns and the potential benefits of generative AI, particularly in relation to accelerating innovation and addressing global challenges like climate change.

Analytics firm Similarweb reveals that Japan stands as the third-largest source of traffic to OpenAI's website, highlighting the nation's significant interest in the technology.

In April, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman held discussions with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, expressing the company's intent to expand operations in Japan. Kishida, who led a dialogue on AI regulation during the Group of Seven summits, emphasised the importance of establishing effective guidelines.

The European Union, known for its pioneering role in tech regulation, has established a dedicated task force focused on ChatGPT and is actively working on developing the first set of AI governance rules. Currently, regulators rely on existing regulations to bridge the gap caused by the rapid proliferation of chatbot technology.

The Italian regulator, Garante, previously forced ChatGPT offline until OpenAI agreed to implement age verification features and provide European users with the ability to block the usage of their information in training the system.

Despite earlier indications that OpenAI might consider leaving Europe due to regulatory challenges, Altman recently confirmed the company's commitment to the region and its intent to comply with EU regulations.

  • Japan's privacy watchdog warns OpenAI against collecting sensitive data without consent.

  • Regulators globally are racing to establish rules for generative AI.

  • Japan recognises the need to keep pace with AI advancements for productivity.

  • Balancing privacy concerns and the benefits of generative AI is crucial.

  • Japan ranks as the third-largest traffic source for OpenAI's website.

  • OpenAI seeks expansion in Japan and engages in AI regulation discussions.

  • The EU forms a task force to regulate ChatGPT and draft AI governance rules.

  • Regulators bridge the gap using existing regulations for chatbot regulation.

  • OpenAI complies with Garante's demands and commits to EU regulations.

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