Federal and provincial privacy authorities in Canada are pursuing a joint investigation into OpenAI, the company that makes ChatGPT, after receiving a complaint about the firm’s disclosure of personal information.
A statement on Thursday said provincial authorities in Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec have joined the investigation launched by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada in April because the issue affects people across the country.
“Given the broad scope and significant privacy impact of artificial intelligence and its relevance to all Canadians, the four offices have decided to jointly investigate the matter,” the statement read.
The complaint that sparked the investigation claimed the company unlawfully collected, used and disclosed personal information without consent through ChatGPT, its artificial intelligence-powered chatbot.
The investigation will examine whether OpenAI received “valid and meaningful” information-sharing consent from ChatGPT users based in Canada. It will also look at whether the company used information for unreasonable or illegitimate reasons.
The statement said privacy offices often work together on issues with nationwide implications because privacy laws in all four provinces are “substantially similar” to federal legislation.
CBC News has contacted OpenAI for comment.
OpenAI is a California-based research and development firm co-founded by Elon Musk. Its backers include Microsoft and billionaire entrepreneur Peter Thiel, who was one of the first outside investors in Facebook.
ChatGPT is a program that has captivated users by generating conversational, human-like responses when users type in questions or tasks — from drafting awkward emails to writing complex computer code and and planning summer vacations.
The cutting-edge software has drawn privacy and misinformation concerns elsewhere since its launch in November. Italy became the first country to temporarily ban the program by government order after its own data protection authority launched an investigation in April over the app’s suspected breach of privacy rules.
ChatGPT is not available in China, Iran, North Korea or Russia because OpenAI did not make it accessible in those countries.