OpenAI Faces $3B Lawsuit Over Alleged Private Data Theft

ChatGPT maker accused of unlawfully scraping personal data from millions of unsuspecting consumers

Ben Wodecki, Junior Editor - AI Business

July 3, 2023

2 Min Read
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At a Glance

  • OpenAI and Microsoft are accused of widespread illicit scraping of internet user data to build systems like ChatGPT.
  • The lawsuit calls for a pause on public access to all OpenAI products as well as $3 billion in damages.

ChatGPT-maker OpenAI is being sued for allegedly stealing private information from “hundreds of millions" of internet users to develop its AI models.

The class action suit was filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California by plaintiffs known only by their initials. OpenAI, along with partner Microsoft, is accused of unlawfully "collecting and feeding … personal data from millions of unsuspecting consumers worldwide.”

The defendants are alleged to have conducted widespread web-scraping campaigns, violating various platforms' terms of service as well as state and federal privacy laws, including the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

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“Defendants’ disregard for privacy laws is matched only by their disregard for the potentially catastrophic risk to humanity,” the lawsuit reads.

OpenAI and Microsoft are further accused of rushing their products containing the stolen data to market without proper safeguards or controls to “ensure that they would not produce or support harmful or malicious content.”

The defendants "created and continue to create economic dependency within our society, deploying the tech directly into the hands of society and embedding it into the fundamental infrastructure as quickly as possible.”

Call for OpenAI to Pause Public Access

Among the plaintiffs are a software engineer, a six-year-old kid and a student. All admit to having used ChatGPT or other OpenAI products in some capacity.

The plaintiffs contend OpenAI and Microsoft accessed their private information by integrating ChatGPT into products and applications such as Snapchat, Microsoft Teams and Slack.

The plaintiffs' identities have been hidden to “avoid intrusive scrutiny as well as any potentially dangerous backlash.”

The plaintiffs have asked the court to award them $3 billion in damages, plus interest and costs.

The lawsuit was filed by Clarkson Law Firm, which has asked OpenAI to pause public access to all AI products and “allow for the coordination of a responsible deployment of this powerful technology.”

This article first appeared in IoT World Today's sister publication AI Business.

AI Business has contacted OpenAI for comment.

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Junior Editor - AI Business

Ben Wodecki is the junior editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to junior editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others.

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