Microsoft and OpenAI face $3B lawsuit alleging privacy violations with ChatGPT

Pranav Bhardwaj

Microsoft patners with OpenAI logo

Microsoft and OpenAI are facing a hefty lawsuit amounting to $3 billion. Sixteen individuals, choosing to remain anonymous, have accused the companies of violating their privacy rights through their AI products based on ChatGPT. According to the complaint filed in a federal court in San Francisco, California, Microsoft and OpenAI allegedly collected and disclosed personal information without obtaining proper consent or providing adequate notice.

In the complaint, Microsoft and OpenAI are accused of violating the Electronic Privacy Communications Act by obtaining and using private information without proper authorization, as well as unlawfully intercepting communications between users and third-party services through integrations with ChatGPT and similar products. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges that the defendants have violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by intercepting interaction data via plugins.

The lawsuit claims that instead of following legal procedures for acquiring data, the companies resorted to unethical practices by gathering information without payment or authorization. The complaint states, “Despite established protocols for the purchase and use of personal information, Defendants took a different approach: theft.” It further alleges that the companies scraped a staggering 300 billion words from various sources on the internet, including personal information obtained without consent. OpenAI is accused of carrying out this data collection secretly and without registering as a data broker as required by the law.

The plaintiffs argue that Microsoft and OpenAI’s AI products, including ChatGPT, engage in the collection, storage, tracking, sharing, and disclosure of personal information belonging to millions of individuals. The scope of the information allegedly obtained spans a wide range, including product details, account information, names, contact details, login credentials, emails, payment information, transaction records, browser data, social media information, chat logs, usage data, analytics, cookies, searches, and other online activities.

The complaint goes on to claim that Microsoft and OpenAI have embedded personal information from millions of people into their AI models. This information allegedly encompasses personal attributes such as hobbies, religious beliefs, political views, voting records, social and support group memberships, sexual orientations, gender identities, work histories, family photos, friends, and other data originating from online interactions.

The lawsuit seeks class-action certification and demands damages of $3 billion. However, the specified figure is likely a placeholder, with the actual damages to be determined based on the court’s findings if the plaintiffs succeed.

OpenAI has previously addressed the issue of reproducing personal information by implementing filtering mechanisms. Both Microsoft and OpenAI have declined to provide any comment regarding the lawsuit.

Via: The Register