- The Italian Data Protection Authority initiates an investigation into the collection of personal data for AI training, targeting both public and private entities.
- The probe aims to ensure appropriate security measures against web scraping, with potential urgent actions following the investigation’s findings.
The Italian Data Protection Authority has embarked on a significant “fact-finding” mission to scrutinize the methods employed in gathering data to train artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. This investigation, announced on November 22, focuses on evaluating the security measures implemented by public and private websites in Italy to protect against unauthorized “web scraping” of personal data.
In-Depth Probe into AI Data Collection
- The investigation extends to all data controllers operating within Italy or providing services to Italian consumers.
- Specific AI platforms, though not named, are known to use web scraping for mass data collection, prompting regulatory attention.
The authority has not singled out any particular companies yet, but it’s common knowledge that various AI platforms employ web scraping techniques to amass substantial volumes of personal data. Upon concluding the investigation, the regulator has stated its readiness to take necessary actions, potentially on an urgent basis.
July Precedent and Ongoing Scrutiny
- Italian regulators have previously banned ChatGPT and allocated funds for workers potentially displaced by AI.
The inquiry by the Italian authority is not the first of its kind. In July, Google was subject to a class-action lawsuit in the United States due to its AI data-scraping practices. Moreover, Italy has been proactive in AI regulation, having previously banned the popular AI chatbot ChatGPT for privacy breaches and setting aside funds for workers at risk of AI-induced job displacement.
Call for Expert Involvement and European Collaboration
- AI experts, academics, and other stakeholders are invited to contribute to the investigation within 60 days.
- Italy collaborates with France and Germany on future AI regulation, aligning with broader EU objectives.
Italian regulators are not working in isolation; they have invited contributions from AI industry experts, academics, and other stakeholders to participate in the investigative process. This collaborative approach extends beyond national borders, with Italy recently joining forces with France and Germany in an agreement on future AI regulation, as per a joint paper obtained by Reuters. This tri-nation agreement is anticipated to influence ongoing negotiations at the European Union level, demonstrating Italy’s commitment to shaping AI’s ethical and secure development across Europe.