2 min

Ireland’s data protection authority says generative AI needs to be regulated, not banned.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), Helen Dixon, has come out against issuing bans on generative AI services such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT. She instead insists that proper regulation is all that’s needed.

Speaking at a conference hosted by Bloomberg in Wicklow, Ireland, Dixon said governing bodies must figure out how to do so correctly before rushing into prohibitions that “really aren’t going to stand up”, according to Reuters.

“It needs to be regulated, and it’s about figuring out how to regulate it properly,” Dixon told the group, saying the debate extended to thousands of ChatGPT equivalents.

She emphasised that it is still early days for generative AI. “For the Irish data protection commission, where we are at is trying to understand a little bit more about the technology, the large language models, and where the training data is sourced.”

More than privacy

The issue goes beyond privacy. Dixon also stressed that generative AI’s problems are about more than just data protection, including copyright and defamation concerns.

Last week, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), a body that unites Europe’s national privacy regulators, set up a task force on ChatGPT. The initiative comes in the wake of Italy’s data watchdog issuing a temporary ban on the chatbot due to privacy concerns. It is also seen as a response to a Spanish request to have the EDPB evaluate ChatGPT from a privacy standpoint.

The DPC is the EU’s lead regulator of many of the world’s largest technology companies due to the location of their EU headquarters in Ireland. However, the Irish watchdog does not have the same purview over OpenAI, which currently has no offices in Europe.

Dixon stressed, however, that the issues around Generative AI span far beyond data protection and include copyright and defamation concerns.

“We also want to contribute to broader discussions about the risks and about other areas of law that converge in AI,” she said.