The Canadian privacy commissioner has launched an investigation into OpenAI, the company behind the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot ChatGPT.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said on Tuesday that the case was launched in response to a “complaint alleging the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information without consent.”

This investigation follows a series of recent moves by the federal government and members of the AI research community in regulating the development and deployment of the technology.

“The speed at which it’s moving is outpacing our ability to make sense of it, know what risks it poses.”

Other countries have also begun to crack down on the mass adoption of ChatGPT. China, which has also banned Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other digital platforms in previous years, reportedly blocked access to ChatGPT in February.

More recently, Italy’s privacy regulator ordered a ban of ChatGPT in March this year, with similar allegations as the Canadian privacy commissioner claiming that the platform breached Europe’s privacy regulations. Reuters reported that privacy regulators in France and Ireland reached out to counterparts in Italy to learn more about the basis of the ban. It also reported that Germany could follow suit by blocking access to ChatGPT over data security concerns.

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The March open letter from a number of leaders in the AI space called for a six-month pause on advanced AI, specifically on training systems that are more powerful than GPT-4, as the next iteration of Open AI’s ChatGPT (GPT-5) is rumoured to be released by the end of this year.

“The speed at which it’s moving is outpacing our ability to make sense of it, know what risks it poses, and our ability to mitigate those risks,” said Emilia Javorsky, director of multistakeholder engagements at the Future of Life institute, in relation to the open letter. “Six months gives us the time to create governance around it and to understand it better. It buys us time for those conversations, risk analyses and risk mitigation efforts.”

Last year, the Canadian government tabled Bill C-27, a wide-ranging privacy legislation that included what would be Canada’s first law regulating high-impact AI systems. If passed, the bill would implement a regulatory framework for the design, development, use, and provision of AI systems. In addition to promoting transparency regarding the systems training processes, it is also expected to enforce measures to mitigate risks of harm and biased output.

Featured image from Unsplash.

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