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ChatGPT: A Powerful AI Tool with Data Privacy Implications 

As concerns about data security and privacy grow in a world that is increasingly reliant on technology, the recent launch of ChatGPT has captured the attention of the world.  

In this blog, we’re exploring ChatGPT’s rapid rise in popularity, and the potential impact on data privacy and security that this may have. 

What is ChatGPT? 

ChatGPT is a cutting-edge language model developed by OpenAI, an artificial intelligence company with the mission to create “safe artificial general intelligence that benefits all of humanity.” Microsoft, which has invested $10 billion in the company, has integrated ChatGPT into its Bing search engine, and introduced new capabilities, such as more complex understanding models and image-to-text translation. 

Learn more about the pros and cons of ChatGPT. 

Skyrocketing Popularity 

Within just a few months, ChatGPT has attracted over 100 million active users, setting a record for the fastest-growing app in history. Its free preview version often reaches full capacity, prompting users to wait in a queue before gaining access. However, OpenAI has also launched a premium version for easier access. 

Despite its popularity, many users may not be aware of OpenAI’s data policy and the implications for their personal information.  

In the race to take advantage of ChatGPT’s impressive capabilities, users may overlook the potential risks to their data privacy. 

Training and Limitations of ChatGPT 

ChatGPT has been trained on vast amounts of data, including personal information and conversations from the internet up until the end of 2021. However, ChatGPT is not connected to the internet and cannot access real-time information or news from 2022 onwards. This means that it could have learned from anything that you or others within your organisation have posted in ChatGPT prompts more recently. 

While ChatGPT has proven highly effective in generating high quality written copy on various subjects, plus producing various software code – it’s not without its flaws.  

Users have reported errors and mistakes, including incorrect calculations and “hallucinations.” OpenAI openly acknowledges these imperfections and continues to work on refining the model. 

Understanding ChatGPT’s Data Policy 

Before using ChatGPT, it’s essential to read OpenAI’s data policy, which details the types of personal information collected and how it is used. Notably, at the time of writing, ChatGPT is not currently GDPR compliant or compliant with other data privacy regulations. 

When registering for ChatGPT, users must provide their phone number and email address, but OpenAI warns against subsequently sharing sensitive information during ChatGPT conversations. In terms of data storage, ChatGPT claims not to store user data permanently or share it with third parties, despite a contradictory statement in its privacy policy. 

Microsoft’s Integration of OpenAI Technology 

Microsoft has integrated OpenAI technology into its Bing search engine, as well as other tools such as Azure. If you use these services within your business, it is essential to read the relevant data, privacy, and security documentation to understand the implications of using ChatGPT in conjunction with these tools. 

For instance, the Azure OpenAI Service page states that it was designed with compliance, privacy, and security in mind. However, the responsibility for the use and implementation of the technology ultimately falls on the customer. 

Guidelines for Safely Using ChatGPT 

To protect your data privacy when using ChatGPT, follow these guidelines: 

  • Be cautious about sharing personal information and consider using a pseudonym 
  • Use a secure private network instead of public WiFi 
  • Check privacy settings if you’re using ChatGPT through 3rd party applications or services 
  • Regularly delete ChatGPT conversations if you are concerned about your data 
  • Treat all information submitted to ChatGPT as if it were publicly available 

Additionally, avoid inputting sensitive, private, or confidential information, including software code or contract extracts, as this data could be used to train the AI tool and appear in responses to other users’ prompts.  

When in doubt, it’s best to refrain from sharing data, especially sensitive data with ChatGPT. 

Empowering Employees and Promoting Awareness 

As with any technology, it’s crucial to educate and empower your employees to use ChatGPT responsibly.  

Encourage open communication, awareness, and training around the tool. This should be approached in the same way that your organisation would approach data protection and security awareness training. Inform your employees about the potential consequences of misusing ChatGPT and the importance of safeguarding sensitive information. 

Monitoring and Adapting to ChatGPT’s Development 

As ChatGPT continues to evolve, it is essential to stay informed about its progress and any changes to its data privacy policies or practices. By keeping up to date on ChatGPT’s development, you can better understand the potential risks and benefits associated with its use. 

Potential Benefits and Applications of ChatGPT 

Despite the data privacy concerns, it’s important to recognise the potential benefits and applications of ChatGPT. Its ability to quickly generate text on various topics, create software code, and understand complex concepts can prove valuable across multiple industries, including marketing and content creation, software development, and customer service. 

By leveraging ChatGPT responsibly, businesses can potentially save time, reduce costs, and improve overall efficiency. However, this must be balanced against the need to protect data privacy and maintain compliance with relevant regulations. 

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