Insight

OpenAI and Microsoft sued in US for $3 billion over alleged ChatGPT privacy violations

OpenAI and Microsoft are being sued in a class action lawsuit alleging that they violated the privacy of hundreds of millions of internet users by secretly scraping vast amounts of personal data to train their ChatGPT artificial intelligence chatbot.

The lawsuit, which was filed on 28 June in federal court in San Francisco, California, claims that:

  • OpenAI and Microsoft collected personal information from users of websites and social media platforms without their knowledge or consent.
  • The information includes names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and financial data.
  • OpenAI and Microsoft used this personal information to train ChatGPT, in violation of the US Electronic Privacy Communications Act which prohibits the interception of electronic communications without a warrant.

The lawsuit is seeking class-action certification and damages of $3 billion and comes at a time when there is growing concern about the privacy implications of artificial intelligence. Whilst in recent years there have been a number of high-profile cases in which AI companies have been accused of collecting and using personal information without users’ consent, this is one of the first major cases to challenge the privacy practices of an AI company. The outcome of the case could therefore have a significant impact on the development and use of AI in the future, including the laws which govern the collection and use of personal data by AI companies, and set a precedent for other legal cases against AI companies.

This case is a timely reminder that AI companies need to be transparent about their data collection practices and ensure they have a valid legal basis, such as consent, before collecting personal data. It is also a reminder that users need to be aware of the privacy implications of using AI-powered products and services.

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