OpenAI class action lawsuit: ChatGPT maker allegedly violates privacy laws

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OpenAI class action lawsuit just began in federal court in San Francisco. Microsoft, which is a big investor in the AI-making company, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit. 

The 157-page document accuses the maker of ChatGPT of theft by obtaining private information from hundreds of millions of internet users, including children, to train the popular chatbot program and other products.

The defendants accused the AI company of conducting a massive clandestine web-scraping operation, violating terms of service agreements, and state and federal privacy and property laws by scrapping 300 billion words from the internet, including personal information, without consent. 

The lawsuit further alleges that OpenAI integrates with various applications, such as Snapchat, Spotify, Stripe, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, to gather image data, location data, music preferences, financial information, and private conversations without proper authorization.

“OpenAI abandoned its original goals and principles, electing instead to pursue profit at the expense of privacy, security, and ethics. It doubled down on a strategy to secretly harvest massive amounts of personal data from the internet, including private information and private conversations, medical data, information about children,” the document reads.

“For years, OpenAI purported to operate as such: openly and in pursuit of its single mission to advance humanity, safely and responsibly. That all changed in 2019, when OpenAI abruptly “shut its doors” to all ‘Open’ influence and scrutiny, shifted to a profit-generating corporate structure, and decided instead to focus on commercializing the AI capabilities on which it had been working,” it continues.

The plaintiffs are seeking $3 billion in potential damages and are requesting the court to freeze commercial access to and further development of OpenAI’s products. OpenAI and Microsoft have not yet responded to the lawsuit.