Italy’s authorities might have banned ChatGPT, but the country’s citizens still seem eager to get their hands on the revolutionary new technology.
Google searches for ‘VPN’ have spiked in Italy since the country banned ChatGPT. Italy had banned ChatGPT on 1st April over privacy concerns. Google Trends data shows that searches for the term ‘VPN’ jumped in Italy. On 1st April, the day the ban was announced, searches for VPN were five times their usual volume in Italy.
VPNs, of course, allow users to mask their locations while browsing the internet, and Italy’s users were looking for ways to circumvent the government ban.
On 20 March, Italy’s government watchdog had said that ChatGPT had experienced a data breach involving user conversations and payment information. It said there was no legal basis to justify “the mass collection and storage of personal data for the purpose of ‘training’ the algorithms underlying the operation of the platform”. It also said that since there was no way to verify the age of users, the app “exposes minors to absolutely unsuitable answers compared to their degree of development and awareness”. OpenAI had finally pulled the plug from its Italian users on 1st April.
But the spike in searches for ways to get around the ban suggest how popular ChatGPT has already become. The product is barely four months old, but is already causing Google search trends to surge when access to it is cut off. It’s testament to how successful ChatGPT is — it already is the fastest ever product to get to 100 million users — and how much people missed it in the brief while that they were able to get their hands on it.