Google this week announced its ChatGPT competitor Bard is expanding from the US and coming to over 180 countries and territories. But curiously, the company is not bringing the chatbot to any countries in the European Union. 

Google released a support document (Opens in a new window)with the names of every market in which Bard is currently available. However, each 27 member state of the EU—including major markets such as Germany and France—are left off the list. 

The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But as the German publication WinFuture points out(Opens in a new window), the reason likely has to do with the EU’s privacy law, GDPR. It’s possible Google still can’t guarantee Bard fully complies with the privacy regulation, which requires tech companies to disclose how they process, store, and use data collected from local users. If a company fails to comply, they can face hefty fines

In the case of Bard, the chatbot can collect any information you submit and potentially use the same data to train itself to come up with better responses. A service like Bard can also attract millions of users, storing data on each one.

Interestingly, if you ask Bard why it isn’t available in the EU, the AI chatbot will also blame GDPR, along with a lack of European language support, and the need for further testing. 

Bard response to why it isn't in the EU

(Credit: Google Bard)

“The EU has some of the strictest privacy regulations in the world. Google is working to ensure that I comply with these regulations before I am made available in the EU,” Bard told PCMag. In addition, the program only supports the English, Japanese, and Korean languages.

Meanwhile, OpenAI’s rival program, ChatGPT, is already attracting regulatory scrutiny in Europe. In March, Italian regulators ordered a block on ChatGPT for violating GDPR and “unlawfully” collecting users’ data. The ban was only lifted last month when OpenAI incorporated several privacy-related changes, including making it clearer to users how they can delete their collected data from the chatbot. 

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Although the ban on ChatGPT in Italy has been lifted, regulators across the EU are preparing to enact strict rules on AI development. On Thursday, EU lawmakers took an initial step to support proposed legislation design to rein in dangerous AI use.

“AI systems with an unacceptable level of risk to people’s safety would be strictly prohibited, including systems that deploy subliminal or purposefully manipulative techniques, exploit people’s vulnerabilities or are used for social scoring,” the EU said in the announcement(Opens in a new window)

The legislation would also require companies deploying AI “to guarantee robust protection of fundamental rights, health and safety and the environment, democracy and rule of law.” However, the proposal still needs to pass a full vote of EU parliament before negotiations on the final form of the legislation can start.

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Not Quite a Global Rollout: Google Avoids Launching ChatGPT Rival Bard in EU

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