Snapchat, the popular instant messaging app widely used by younger audiences, is under scrutiny by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for potential failure in properly assessing privacy risks to children associated with its artificial intelligence chatbot, “My AI,” according to an announcement made on Friday. The ICO stated that it would carefully consider Snapchat’s response before making any final enforcement decisions.
If Snapchat fails to adequately address the concerns raised by the regulator, the ICO has the authority to ban the usage of “My AI” in the UK. The My AI chatbot was launched in April 2023 and has since come under the ICO’s regulatory lens.
Information Commissioner John Edwards expressed apprehension over what the ICO’s provisional findings indicated. He mentioned a potential failure by Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, in effectively identifying and assessing privacy risks to children and other users before the launch of “My AI.”
However, the ICO clarified that the initial findings do not automatically imply a breach of British data protection laws, nor does it confirm an imminent enforcement notice. The ICO is actively investigating how “My AI” processes the personal data of Snapchat’s approximately 21 million UK users, including minors aged 13 to 17.
“My AI” relies on OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a notable example of generative AI, which has gained global attention from policymakers for potential regulation due to privacy and safety concerns. Social media platforms like Snapchat require users to be at least 13 years old, but they have encountered challenges in effectively enforcing age restrictions and keeping underage users off their platforms.
Snap responded to the ICO’s notice by stating that it was reviewing the concerns raised and reiterated its commitment to user privacy. The company emphasized that “My AI” had undergone a comprehensive legal and privacy review process before its public release and expressed its intent to work collaboratively with the ICO to ensure compliance with risk assessment procedures.