Taking a deeper look at the regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, the Canadian privacy regulators are initiating a joint inquiry into the data collection and usage practises of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. Canada is the latest major country to look into the issues related to AI regulation.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada announced on May 25 that, along with its counterparts in Quebec, British Columbia, and Alberta, the authorities will investigate whether OpenAI had received consent to gather, use, and disseminate residents’ personal information via ChatGPT. The investigation will be done by four institutions: The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC), the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, the Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec, and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta.
The four offices have chosen to work together on the investigation because of artificial intelligence’s broad scope and significant privacy impact. The offices will be able to more successfully and effectively enforce privacy laws by using their combined resources and knowledge and working together. This joint inquiry demonstrates the close cooperation between privacy authorities in Canada in addressing important artificial intelligence-related challenges.
The OPC’s announcement states that the privacy authorities “will investigate whether OpenAI:
1. has obtained valid and meaningful consent for the collection, use and disclosure of the personal information of individuals based in Canada via ChatGPT;
2. has respected its obligations with respect to openness and transparency, access, accuracy, and accountability; and
3. has collected, used and/or disclosed personal information for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate, reasonable or legitimate in the circumstances, and whether this collection is limited to information that is necessary for these purposes.”
The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Philippe Dufresne, said, “AI technology and its effects on privacy are global issues and key focus areas for privacy authorities in Canada and around the world”. He added, “As regulators, we need to keep up with – and stay ahead of – fast-moving technological advances in order to protect the fundamental privacy rights of Canadians”.
Privacy authorities frequently collaborate on issues which has a national impact. Québec, British Columbia, and Alberta’s privacy laws have been deemed to be substantially identical to federal laws. Each office will look at how well the governing laws are being followed.
The OPC already announced on April 4 to launch an investigation into OpenAI. Privacy Commissioner Philippe Dufresne stated, “AI technology and its effects on privacy is a priority for my Office”. He added, “We need to keep up with – and stay ahead of – fast-moving technological advances, and that is one of my key focus areas as Commissioner”. The investigation into OpenAI over ChatGPT’s data collection practice was launched in response to a complaint alleging personal information collection, use and disclosure without consent.
Even the European Union is planning to regulate artificial intelligence. The European Union industry chief Thierry Breton stated that Alphabet, Google’s parent company and the European Commission intends to create an artificial intelligence (AI) pact to govern the technology.
Earlier in Brussels, he met Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, “Sundar and I agreed that we cannot afford to wait until AI regulation actually becomes applicable, and to work together with all AI developers to already develop an AI pact on a voluntary basis ahead of the legal deadline”.
The details and rules of the AI pact will be decided by the end of 2023 with the support of lawmakers from European Union countries. Last month, the EU parliamentarians drafted Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act which got a preliminary agreement. But the bill will be further debated by the representatives from the Parliament, the Council, and the Commission and will go through refinement before the final draft is released.
Furthermore, India is considering a legal framework for regulating technology and AI-enabled platforms, such as ChatGPT, at a time when authorities in many places, including Europe and the US, have advocated for AI regulation.
While interacting with the media, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw expressed his concern about Artificial Intelligence, “The whole world is looking at what should be the framework, and what should be the regulatory setup. In G7, all digital ministers (of G7 countries) are seriously concerned about what should be the regulatory framework. So, this is a global thing. This is not one country’s issue. This has to be looked at from the international perspective”.