Snapchat warned by UK data watchdog over AI chatbot risks


The social media platform Snapchat has received a warning from the United Kingdom’s data watchdog over its new artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot known as “My AI,” according to an update posted by the regulator. 

On Oct. 6 the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office issued a preliminary notice to Snap Inc. and Snap Group Limited, the parent companies of Snapchat, of a potential failure to “properly assess the privacy risks” posed by the chatbot.

The notice is based off a provisional investigation of the company conducted by the watchdog which  said the risks to several million “My AI” users, including children aged 13-17, were not adequately identified prior to its launch.

John Edwards, the U.K.’s information commissioner, commented on the notice saying:

“We have been clear that organizations must consider the risks associated with AI, alongside the benefits. Today’s preliminary enforcement notice shows we will take action in order to protect U.K. consumers’ privacy rights.”

According to the notice, if a final enforcement notice is issued Snap may be subject to stopping data processing in relation to “My AI,” which would be not offering the service to U.K.-based users without an “adequate” risk assessment. 

At the moment, the Commissioner’s Office said a conclusion should not be made from the current stage of investigations.

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Snapchat’s AI chatbot was rolled out to users of Snapchat+ in the U.K. in February 2023, with wider availability beginning in April 2023. 

“My AI” is powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4 technology and according to the data watchdog was the “first example of generative AI embedded into a major messaging platform in the UK.”

Throughout the year major social media platforms have been integrating AI features into their operations. On Oct. 4 the Microsoft-owned business-focused social media platform LinkedIn announced additional AI tools available to recruiters and an AI assistant in its learning center.

BigTech giants Meta, the Facebook and Instagram parent company, and Google have also both revealed their own AI chatbot integration into their service offerings.

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