OpenAI, as well as Microsoft, have been named in a new class action lawsuit for allegedly using web scraping techniques to obtain allegedly private data to train ChatGPT and other associated artificial intelligence (AI) models.
The most recent class action lawsuit was filed on September 5 in San Francisco by a law firm representing a pair of unnamed engineers.
According to the filing filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California:
"This class action lawsuit stems from Defendants' wrongful and tortious conduct in the development, marketing and operation of their AI products, including ChatGPT-3.5, ChatGPT-4.0, Dall-E and Vall-E (the "Products"), which use stolen private information, including personally identifiable information of hundreds of millions of Internet users, including children of all ages, without their informed consent or knowledge."
The lawsuit goes on to allege that OpenAI "redoubled its strategy to secretly collect massive amounts of personal data from the Internet" after restructuring in 2019.
"Without this unprecedented theft of private and copyrighted information belonging to real people," the plaintiffs write, "the products," referring to ChatGPT, DALL-E and other OpenAI models, "would not be the multi-billion dollar business they are today."
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs are asking the courts to award damages to the plaintiffs and all members of the proposed groups, which could include anyone whose information was allegedly stolen.
The lawsuit also asks the courts to order the defendants to make "non-restitutionary disgorgement" of profits made as a result of the alleged illegal data mining.
This latest lawsuit alleges that OpenAI and Microsoft knowingly engaged in "illegal" scraping activity.
An earlier class action lawsuit making nearly identical claims against OpenAI and Microsoft was filed in the same judicial district on June 28. It is unclear at this time whether the court or the defendants in the separate cases will consider combining the lawsuits.
Microsoft and OpenAI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
"Scraping" involves using an automated robot, often referred to as a "crawler," to collect data from the Internet, with or without consent.
And well, as they always say out there, especially when they offer us to use free services and applications:
"If you don't know what the product is, the product is you".
"There is no free lunch".
What did you think? Did you think ChatGPT didn't collect data?