Italy’s privacy regulator looks into online data gathering to train AI

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s data protection authority has kicked-off a fact-finding investigation into the practice of gathering large amounts of personal data online for use in training artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, the regulator said on Wednesday.

The watchdog is one of the most proactive of the 31 national data protection authorities in assessing AI platform compliance with Europe’s data privacy regime known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Earlier this year, it briefly banned popular chatbot ChatGPT from operating in Italy over a suspected breach of privacy rules.

On Wednesday, the Italian authority said the review was aimed at assessing whether online websites were setting out “adequate measures” to prevent AI platforms from collecting massive amounts of personal data for algorithms, also known as data scraping.

“Following the fact-finding investigation, the Authority reserves the right to take the necessary steps, also in an urgent matter”, the regulator said.

No company was specifically mentioned in the statement.

Italy invited academics, AI experts, and consumer groups to take part in the fact-finding process, sharing their views or comments over a 60 day period.

Several countries have been looking at ways to regulate AI. European lawmakers have taken a lead by drafting rules aimed at setting a global standard for a technology that has become key to almost every industry and business. The draft rules could get approved by next month.

France, Germany and Italy have reached an agreement on how AI should be regulated, according to a joint paper seen by Reuters, which is expected to accelerate negotiations at the European level.

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Mark Potter)