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OpenAI, maker of ChatGPT, hit with proposed class action lawsuit alleging it stole people’s data

<i>Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Getty Images</i><br/>OpenAI
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Getty Images

By Catherine Thorbecke, CNN

(CNN) — OpenAI, the company behind the viral ChatGPT tool, has been hit with a lawsuit alleging the company stole and misappropriated vast swaths of peoples’ data from the internet to train its AI tools.

The proposed class action lawsuit, filed Wednesday in a California federal court, claims that OpenAI secretly scraped “massive amounts of personal data from the internet,” according to the complaint. The nearly 160-page complaint alleges that this personal data, including “essentially every piece of data exchanged on the internet it could take,” was also seized by the company without notice, consent or “just compensation.”

Moreover, this data scraping occurred at an “unprecedented scale,” the suit claims.

OpenAI did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment Wednesday. Microsoft, a major investor into OpenAI, was also named as a defendant in the suit and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“By collecting previously obscure personal data of millions and misappropriating it to develop a volatile, untested technology, OpenAI put everyone in a zone of risk that is incalculable – but unacceptable by any measure of responsible data protection and use,” Timothy K. Giordano, a partner at Clarkson, the law firm behind the suit, said in a statement to CNN Wednesday.

The complaint also claims that OpenAI products “use 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.”

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief in the form of a temporary freeze on further commercial use of OpenAI’s products. It also seeks payments of “data dividends” as financial compensation to people whose information was used to develop and train OpenAI’s tools.

OpenAI publicly launched ChatGPT late last year, and the tool immediately went viral for its ability to generate compelling, human-sounding responses to user prompts. The success of ChatGPT spurred an apparent AI arms race in the tech world, as companies big and small are now racing to develop and deploy AI tools into as many products as possible.

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