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Data Privacy Concerns of the Public ChatGPT

Programmers Inc. Team
A lack of data privacy in the public ChatGPT and remaining concerns about premium services leads many to invest in internal generative AI capabilities.
Yellow caution sign as a symbol for ChatGPT’s data privacy problems



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Picture this: An employee voluntarily gives out corporate information to anyone who wishes to access it, competitors and non-competitors alike. Worse yet, everyone is seemingly free to use this data however they please, either to inform their business decisions or to create their own intellectual property.

Sounds dire, right? This is the exact situation that companies across industries find themselves in when they willingly give out their information to the public ChatGPT. While the use cases of generative AI can exponentially benefit companies, it is important to use this technology wisely to avoid catastrophic long-term consequences.

Any information that you or your employees share with the public ChatGPT is used to train the system’s language learning model (LLM). It can then be used to answer future queries whenever ChatGPT believes it is useful.

For example, ­­­if your teams ask for help about what their strategy should be in the next quarter, information they enter related to KPIs, the company’s current position, or anything else is then fair game for competitors and the public to inquire about when they use ChatGPT.

Fallout from a Lack of Data Privacy

Many companies have already seen their data fall into the wrong hands. A recent survey found that 10.8% of employees use ChatGPT and 4.7% of workers have given ChatGPT confidential workplace data in their queries.

Samsung was one major company that reportedly suffered data leaks in April 2023. According to a news article from Gizmodo, there were likely at least three separate incidents involving ChatGPT inquiries that led to data leaks. That included one instance where a worker “reportedly submitted an entire meeting to the chatbot and asked it to create meeting minutes.”

If you work with clients or store customer data, this risk is further enhanced. An inopportune query from one of your employees could mean information about your clients or customers is now in the ChatGPT system. This would crater any organization’s credibility and could lead to a string of lawsuits.

Data scientist at his MacBook reviewing ChatGPT inquiries 

ChatGPT Enterprise and Other Premium Offerings

OpenAI launched ChatGPT Enterprise a few months ago which looks to be a solution. The company promises that data submitted here will not be used to train the LLM and that the enterprise will control who has access to the system.

However, the company has struggled with premium ChatGPT offerings in the past. For example, ChatGPT Plus launched in February 2023 as the paid version of the groundbreaking technology. Companies that embraced it found it difficult to work with and were unclear about how privacy worked on the platform.

An article from Digiday notes companies like Zapier and Intero Digital were among the early adopters. Yet the companies found “that the paid version was difficult to navigate as it led to inconsistency with not everyone on the platform and it didn’t guarantee that employees weren’t sharing sensitive information.”

Many tech experts also have concerns about ChatGPT Enterprise specifically. CISO expert Agnidipta Sarkar mentions that he is worried that ChatGPT Enterprise will be a prime target for hackers. “Hackers and malicious insiders will attempt to take away the learning and monetize it for other purposes.”

Other leaders, such as Gartner analyst Jim Hare are also cautioning companies to pump the brakes on ChatGPT Enterprise. “I think it’s really addressing some of the risks, but there are other ones. I will [advise] enterprises to take a look at it, experiment with it, but don’t look at this as the be-all-end-all that’s going to solve all these enterprise problems.”

Investigations into ChatGPT’s Practices

Government investigations into ChatGPT, both past and present, further raise concerns. In April 2023, Italy briefly banned the technology because of the lack of transparency OpenAI made into how personal data would be used.

While Italy lifted the ban on ChatGPT before the month was out, concerns and investigations still mount. A complaint was recently submitted claiming that ChatGPT is not in compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or “GDPR” for short, due to a lack of transparency, data privacy, and more.

The complaint also claims that OpenAI did not meet with regulators before releasing ChatGPT “since, if it had conducted a proactive assessment which identified high risks to people’s rights unless mitigating measures were applied it should have given pause for thought.”  

The White House, where Joe Biden recently signed an executive order on generative AI 

Most of these investigations have taken place in the European Union. But countries such as the United States are beginning to take a more active role in generative AI, marked by President Joe Biden’s passing of an executive order on AI in October 2023. In the months to come, ChatGPT’s practices could be as intensely under review at home as they are abroad.

Bet on Yourself, Not ChatGPT

Nobody could have predicted how rapidly generative AI would burst onto the scene and nobody can know what the future holds for the technology. However, every business should be more than a little concerned about how the public ChatGPT and premium ChatGPT services handle their enterprise data.

That is not to say that it is time to turn your back on generative AI. In fact, at Programmers Inc., we believe the benefits of this technology are truly astounding. It can improve your relationship with customers, boost employee satisfaction, make your company more data-driven, and much more.

Instead of putting everything into ChatGPT’s basket, we recommend embedding generative AI into your own digital ecosystem. That way, your data stays within your enterprise no matter what and you have much more control to optimize the technology to fit your specific business needs.

Programmers Inc. has helped countless clients begin leveraging this technology all within their own environment. We guide you in finding the most effective business use cases for generative AI, build the systems from the ground up, and optimize them continuously to ensure you’re getting the most out of the technology (and staying compliant with growing regulations). Learn more about our generative AI services today.

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