The recent blocking of ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence language model developed by OpenAI, in Italy due to privacy concerns has sparked a debate about internet freedom and the role of VPNs in ensuring access to information and communication. Despite the geoblocking, users in Italy have found ways to access the popular AI system through the use of VPNs, demonstrating their determination to bypass restrictions and maintain online services. This article will explore the importance of internet freedom, the use of VPNs to circumvent geo-blocks, and the implications of online restrictions and bans on users’ ability to access information and communicate freely.
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ChatGPT banned in Italy — is this temporary?
The decision to block ChatGPT in Italy has sparked a debate over online privacy and freedom. The Garante, an independent data protection body, found OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, guilty of collecting and storing personal data improperly, thus violating the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The Garante also highlighted the lack of age verification procedures, which could put minors at risk of accessing inappropriate content.
The Garante is known for its efforts to raise awareness about online privacy risks. For example, it was among the first organizations to warn about the potential privacy threats posed by TikTok, the popular video-sharing app owned by China. TikTok is currently facing global scrutiny, with some countries considering banning it under national security laws.
While OpenAI claims to be committed to protecting user privacy by reducing personal data collection, the company has been given 20 days by the Garante to address the concerns or face a fine of up to 4% of its annual revenues.
More than 100 million users worldwide have been using ChatGPT since its launch in November 2021. Still, the company is now enforcing a basic geographical blocking technique in Italy to limit access to the popular AI system.
However, users in Italy can still access ChatGPT by using secure VPN software to connect to an international server where the platform is not banned. However, it’s worth noting that ChatGPT accounts registered in Italy might no longer be available, and users may need to use a spoofed IP address to create a new profile. Therefore, you might need to install a VPN first, pick a server from a location where ChatGPT is not banned and create a new ChatGPT account.
OpenAI has announced a refund for all its Italian users who had already subscribed to its premium plan while halting subscription renewals in the country.
Despite criticism of Italy’s ChatGPT ban, including from the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, France, Germany, and Ireland are also investigating the matter.
If other EU countries follow Italy’s lead, it could lead to further spikes in VPN usage as people try to bypass online restrictions. Major virtual private network (VPN) providers observed similar trends in other countries where bans or restrictions have been enforced.
ChatGPT unblocked with VPN offering freedom
The ChatGPT geo-block in Italy and the subsequent surge in VPN usage serve as a reminder of the importance of internet freedom and the role that tools like VPNs can play in ensuring access to information and communication, regardless of geographical restrictions.
The decision by Italy’s data protection watchdog, known as the Garante, to block ChatGPT has led to a surge in the use of VPN services as people look for ways to bypass the restriction. The Garante cited concerns over privacy and the lack of effective age verification procedures as the reasons for the ban, making Italy the first Western democracy (?) to block the service. While ChatGPT is also banned in countries such as China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, Italy’s decision has caused alarm among tech enthusiasts who see it as a sign that more countries may follow suit.
OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, has been found responsible for improperly collecting and storing data from Italian users, thereby breaching GDPR regulations. The company has now been given 20 days to address these concerns or face fines of up to 4% of its annual revenues. While OpenAI claims to be committed to protecting users’ privacy and has reduced the amount of personal data collected by its AI systems, Garante’s concerns suggest that more needs to be done.
Despite the ban, people in Italy are still finding ways to access ChatGPT through VPN services. According to popular VPN providers’ data, there has been around a 400% increase in VPN traffic from Italy since the ban was enforced. Google Trends has also registered a similar spike, with Italians searching for the word «VPN» 600 times more than before. This surge in VPN usage highlights the importance of internet freedom and the role that tools like VPNs can play in ensuring freedom and access to information and communication.
VPNs provide a simple solution for those in Italy who wish to continue using ChatGPT. By connecting to a server outside of Italy, users can access ChatGPT as if they were located in a different country. However, it’s important to note that there is a possibility that ChatGPT accounts registered in Italy may no longer be available. Therefore, people in Italy may need to spoof their real IP address by using a VPN service and proper server location before creating a new profile.
OpenAI had already announced a refund for all its Italian users who had subscribed to its premium plan before the ban was enforced while halting subscription renewals in the country. However, some have criticized the ban, including Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who tweeted his disapproval the day after the block was enforced. Other EU countries such as France, Germany, and Ireland are also investigating the matter, leading some to speculate that more countries may soon follow Italy’s lead.
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Ultimately, the decision to block ChatGPT in Italy raises important questions about how governments will regulate AI technology in the future and whether bans are the best way to address privacy and security concerns.
What are the future of the Internet, technologies, and our freedom?
In recent years, we have seen a growing trend of governments and organizations implementing online restrictions and bans on certain websites, apps, and online services. These restrictions may be due to security, privacy, or political censorship concerns. However, as online limitations continue to increase, so does the response from internet users, who are finding ways to circumvent these restrictions and maintain access to the online services they rely on.
One of the most common methods internet users use to bypass online restrictions is a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Briefly, if you don’t know what a VPN is: it is a secure and private network that allows users to access the Internet through an encrypted connection. The use of a secure VPN allows you to hide IP addresses and locations and access online services that may be restricted in your country or region. As a result, VPNs have become increasingly popular, with millions worldwide relying on them to maintain access to online services they need for work, education, or entertainment.
Recommended reading: Why should you use your Business VPN
However, VPNs are not the only method internet users use to bypass online restrictions. Some internet users also use proxy servers or the Tor network, a decentralized network that uses a system of relays to anonymize internet traffic. The Tor network has become popular among activists and journalists, who use it to bypass government censorship and surveillance.
The increasing use of VPNs and other tools to bypass online restrictions has sparked a debate over internet freedom and the role governments and organizations should play in regulating online content. While some argue that online restrictions are necessary to protect national security and prevent illegal activities such as piracy and cybercrime, others argue that they violate the right to free speech and access to information.
This debate has played out in various countries worldwide, with some governments imposing strict online restrictions and bans while others take a more hands-off approach. For example, China has one of the most extensive online censorship regimes in the world, with its Great Firewall blocking access to websites such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter. In contrast, countries such as the United States and most European countries have relatively few online restrictions, although there are concerns about government surveillance and the collection of personal data.
One of the most significant challenges facing internet users who want to bypass online restrictions is the constantly evolving nature of these restrictions. Governments and organizations are continually finding new ways to block access to online services, meaning internet users must also constantly adapt their methods to maintain access.
Despite these challenges, internet users are finding ways to maintain access to the online services they need. Whether through VPNs, proxy servers, or the Tor network, they prove that online restrictions are not an unconquerable obstacle to internet freedom. Moreover, as the debate over online restrictions continues, it is clear that the ingenuity of internet users will play an essential role in shaping the future of the Internet.
What can be blocking and how to get ChatGPT unblocked?
Italian users of ChatGPT are currently unable to access the AI-powered language model, as OpenAI has decided to disable the service in the country. As a result, the ChatGPT Plus subscription service has also been suspended and refunds will be issued to those who had already subscribed. Furthermore, subscription renewals for Italian users have been temporarily halted. If you are an Italian user, even accessing the service from outside of Italy may not be possible, as your account was originally created in Italy. Therefore, you must create new account from outside Italy.
Since ChatGPT is only available outside Italy now, you will have to use a VPN to be able to access ChatGPT in Italy.
How to make ChatGPT unblocked for users in Italy in 5 simply steps
To prevent access to ChatGPT in Italy, OpenAI has implemented geo-blocking technology. However, users can still access ChatGPT without restrictions by using a premium VPN like PureVPN. With a VPN, users can switch to a non-Italian IP address and bypass ChatGPT's geo-blocking, enabling hassle-free access to the AI chatbot.
Download PureVPN app on your device.
Connect to any non-Italian server (a US server would work perfectly fine).
Open ChatGPT and create new account/sign up.
Enjoy using ChatGPT in Italy!
Some users report having problems accessing blocked content even with VPN. If that’s you, please read the how-to bypass VPN block.