OpenAI Faces Class Action Over Alleged Data Misuse

OpenAI, the name behind the wildly popular AI tool, ChatGPT, finds itself entangled in a proposed class action lawsuit over allegations of mass data theft​.


The lawsuit, filed in a California federal court, alleges that OpenAI secretly scraped "massive amounts of personal data from the internet." It further claims that this data, which includes "essentially every piece of data exchanged on the internet it could take," was seized by the company without notice, consent, or "just compensation"​.

The scale at which this alleged data scraping occurred is described as "unprecedented." The complaint asserts that the AI tools developed by OpenAI are fueled by "stolen private information, including personally identifiable information, from hundreds of millions of internet users, including children of all ages, without their informed consent or knowledge"​.

Timothy K. Giordano, a partner at Clarkson, the law firm spearheading the suit, stated that by "collecting previously obscure personal data of millions and misappropriating it to develop a volatile, untested technology," OpenAI has placed everyone in a zone of risk that is "incalculable – but unacceptable by any measure of responsible data protection and use"​.

Adding to the weight of the allegations, Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI, has also been named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Neither OpenAI nor Microsoft has responded to requests for comments as of the time of reporting​.

The repercussions of the lawsuit, if successful, could be far-reaching. The plaintiffs are seeking injunctive relief in the form of a temporary freeze on further commercial use of OpenAI’s products. They are also calling for payments of "data dividends" as financial compensation to individuals whose information was allegedly used to develop and train OpenAI’s AI tools​.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of the public launch of ChatGPT. The AI tool, known for its ability to generate compelling, human-like responses to user prompts, immediately went viral upon release. The success of ChatGPT sparked an apparent AI arms race in the tech industry, with companies, both large and small, racing to develop and deploy AI tools as quickly and widely as possible​.

The outcome of this lawsuit could potentially change the landscape of AI development, emphasizing the importance of data privacy and ethical AI training practices. As the case proceeds, it serves as a stark reminder of the challenges and responsibilities that come with the rapid advancement of AI technology.