Italian City, Trento, Fined $54,000 For Abusing AI

Italian City, Trento, Fined $54,000 For Abusing AI

Trento is the first Italian city to face a fine for improper use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in a scientific study project that involved cameras, microphones, and social media.

Trento has become the first city in Italy to be fined for its misuse of artificial intelligence (AI). This is according to a release by the Italian Data Protection Authority.

According to the release, the city of Trento carried out two scientific research projects using cameras, microphones, and social networks. The projects, however, used AI and broke data protection legislation.

The projects, additionally, were funded by the European Union, and they are focused on developing technological solutions aimed at improving safety in urban areas according to the “smart cities” paradigm.

Consequently, this made the city of Trento the first local administration to be reprimanded by the Italian Data Protection Authority with a fine of 50,000 euros ($54,373).

Italian Data Protection Authority

According to the Italian privacy authority, it recognized that the city acted in good faith but found that the data collected needed to be more anonymous and correctly shared with third parties.

The Italian data watchdog condemned the massive and invasive processing methods put in place, which entailed significant risks to the rights and freedoms of the interested parties, including those of a constitutional nature.

The Italian city of Trento, however, reportedly said it is considering an appeal of the decision. According to the municipality, the actions taken by the regulator highlight how the current legislation is insufficient to regulate the use of AI to analyze large amounts of data and improve city security.

AI in Italy

The rapid adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) across multiple industries has raised questions about privacy rights and the safety of personal data. The Italian Data Protection Authority is one of the EU’s most proactive in assessing AI platform compliance with the bloc’s data privacy regime.

Last year, the authority briefly banned the popular chatbot ChatGPT in Italy.

Italy remains vigilant towards AI technology, even as the ban on ChatGPT was removed after OpenAI complied with local transparency stipulations.

Giorgia Meloni, Prime Minister of Italy, said the government plans to tackle AI regulation as one of its main priorities during its presidency of the Group of Seven (G7) major democracies. The G7 presidency will be held this coming June.

In 2021, the Italian data protection agency additionally said a facial recognition system tested by the Italian Interior Ministry did not comply with privacy laws.

Notably, lawmakers and governments in the European Union agreed on provisional terms for regulating AI systems like ChatGPT. These terms were reached in December and are a step towards setting rules governing AI technology. The use of AI in biometric surveillance is a critical sticking point.

In May 2023, however, the Italian government set aside a multi-million-dollar fund for workers at risk of AI replacement. Moreover, in a parliamentary debate held shortly after, an Italian senator used OpenAI’s GPT-4 to generate a speech. The speech was geared toward making a point about AI usage and sparking a serious debate in the country about the technology.

To prevent AI data scrapping, the Italian regulators began an investigation into the security practices of public and private websites. This investigation kicked off in November last year.

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