Google recently expanded access to its AI chatbot Bard to 180 new countries and territories. But not featured on the list? Any European Union (EU) nations.
This is due to Google failing to answer privacy concerns from the Irish Data Protection Commission or DPC — the regulator for Google’s Dublin-based EU operations.
As first reported by Politico, the DPC’s deputy commissioner, Graham Doyle, said Google “recently” informed the organization of an upcoming Bard launch in the EU. The DPC asked for a “data protection impact assessment,” which is required under EU privacy laws. Google didn’t provide the docs, the DPC asked more questions, and Google has yet to respond. As a result, says Doyle, “Bard will not now launch this week.”
A Google spokesperson told Politico: “We said in May that we wanted to make Bard more widely available, including in the European Union, and that we would do so responsibly, after engagement with experts, regulators and policymakers … As part of that process, we’ve been talking with privacy regulators to address their questions and hear feedback.”
In other words: the new breed of AI chatbots continue to be a privacy concern in the EU, and companies aren’t yet up to speed on exactly what is required of them. We’ve seen this before with ChatGPT. The bot was temporarily banned in Italy and is currently being investigated in Germany, France, and Spain, with a pan-EU task force on the job, too.
The privacy concerns with chatbots like Bard and ChatGPT are various, ranging from insufficient protections for minors, to an inability to opt out of the data scrapes that power these systems. Did you know OpenAI records your conversations with ChatGPT by default, and uses this info to train its system? And that this same data can also be examined by human moderators? It’s not necessarily bad, but users aren’t always aware when it’s happening.
It’s not clear exactly what the DPC’s concerns were with Bard, but alternatives like Bing AI and ChatGPT remain available across the EU.