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Delete your data from ChatGPT now!

LAB51 Featuring Delete your data from ChatGPT now!
By Anja Prosch
Anja Prosch

5 Min

May 22, 2023

The advent of ChatGPT has brought about significant changes, leaving it up to individual judgment to determine whether these changes are positive or negative.

However, ongoing discussions continue to examine whether ChatGPT is a revolutionary tool that streamlines various work processes or if it poses a significant threat to humanity. Recently, concerns have surfaced regarding the safety of user data, as it has been discovered that ChatGPT may not prioritize data protection and instead utilizes it for collection purposes.

What happens when the data are put in ChatGPT?

ChatGPT and GPT-4 generate their human-like responses through statistical analysis, predicting the likelihood of words following each other based on millions of examples of sentences written by humans. However, OpenAI has maintained secrecy regarding the specific data used to train its large language models, making it unknown how much of the web, including personal information, has been scraped in the process.

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ChatGPT has the potential to possess personal information about you. OpenAI is currently facing investigations by data regulators worldwide regarding several issues related to data acquisition for training its large language models, the accuracy of responses concerning individuals, and legal concerns surrounding the use of its generative text systems. European data regulators have collaborated to examine OpenAI following Italy's temporary ban on ChatGPT within the country, while Canada is also investigating potential privacy risks associated with the technology.

Various potential issues have arisen as users have interacted with the chatbot, posing questions about their lives and acquaintances. OpenAI acknowledges that ChatGPT may provide inaccurate information, and users have discovered instances where it fabricates professions and hobbies. False newspaper articles have been generated. Moreover, the system has produced incorrect statements, implicating a law professor in a sexual harassment scandal and falsely accusing an Australian mayor of involvement in a bribery scandal, leading to potential defamation lawsuits!

OpenAI states that its language models are trained on three main sources of information:

  • Data gathered from the internet
  • Licensed data from external sources
  • The information provided by users during chats

This means that personal information, inadvertently collected due to the abundance of personal data on the internet, is included in the training information. OpenAI claims to take measures to minimize the amount of personal data it collects.

In response to the increased scrutiny, particularly from the Italian data regulator that allowed ChatGPT back into the country after OpenAI implemented changes to its service, the company has introduced tools and processes to provide users with more control over at least some of their data.

Okay, how can I take more control over my data?

To address privacy concerns, OpenAI has introduced a Personal Data Removal Request Form, primarily targeted at individuals in Europe and Japan. This form allows people to request the removal of information about themselves from OpenAI's systems. The company outlines this form in a blog post discussing the development of its language models.

The form mainly focuses on removing information from ChatGPT's responses to users rather than erasing it from the training data. It asks for details such as name, email, country, and whether the request is being made on behalf of someone else or as a public figure. OpenAI also requires evidence that its systems have mentioned the individual, including relevant prompts and screenshots where the person is referenced. Based on the provided prompts, the form emphasizes the need for clear evidence of the model's knowledge of the data subject. Applicants must affirm the accuracy of the details provided and acknowledge that OpenAI may not always fulfill deletion requests. The company will consider privacy and free expression when evaluating these requests.

It is essential to exercise caution regarding the information you share with ChatGPT, especially considering OpenAI's limited data-deletion options. By default, the conversations you have with ChatGPT can be utilized by OpenAI as training data for its future large language models. This means the information you provide could be reproduced in response to future queries. However, OpenAI introduced a new setting on April 25 that allows users worldwide to halt this process.

To access this setting, log in to ChatGPT, click on your user profile in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, navigate to Settings, and select Data Controls. Here, you can toggle off the option for Chat History & Training. OpenAI clarifies that disabling chat history means the data you input into conversations will not be used to train and enhance their models.

As a result, any information you enter into ChatGPT, including personal details, aspects of your life, and work-related information, should not resurface in future iterations of OpenAI's large language models. OpenAI states that when chat history is turned off, it will retain all conversations for 30 days for abuse monitoring purposes and then permanently delete them.

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When your data history is turned off, ChatGPT may prompt you to enable it again by placing a button in the sidebar. This turns the "off" setting tucked away in the settings menu, potentially encouraging users to reconsider their choice.

What does it all mean?

While technology undoubtedly brings numerous benefits, there is a concern that it can fall into the wrong hands, leading to negative consequences. No matter how advanced and beneficial technology may be, there are always potential downsides.

Though a prominent concern, data collection is just the tip of the iceberg. What truly matters is our consciousness and understanding of how to utilize these technologies responsibly. By becoming educated about their limitations and flaws, we can actively work towards avoiding technology's negative aspects and prevent their future recurrence. Through this awareness and knowledge, we can navigate the potential risks associated with technology and ensure a more positive and secure future.