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United Kingdom-based iOS and Android users might soon lose access to Snapchat’s “My AI” if Snap fails to defend itself to the regulator, accusing it of failing over the feature’s privacy risk assessment. The watchdog specifically points out concerns that generative AI technology could bring to children.

“The ICO’s investigation provisionally found the risk assessment Snap conducted before it launched ‘My AI’ did not adequately assess the data protection risks posed by the generative AI technology, particularly to children,” the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) says in a press release. “The assessment of data protection risk is particularly important in this context which involves the use of innovative technology and the processing of personal data of 13 to 17 year old children.”

My AI was first brought to the UK Snapchat+ subscribers in February 2023. It is Snap’s response to the growing interest of tech firms and customers in generative AI. And with OpenAI’s ChatGPT leading the race, the company opted to use the large language model-based chatbot for its My AI feature. However, different issues involving it have surfaced in the past months, including the bot acting rogue.

Prior to the official release of the feature, the company stressed to users not to share private information with the bot. It also added “mistakes may occur,” saying users should not rely on it for pieces of advice. Also, the company said that the user’s messages would be stored “to improve the product experience.” That includes Snap images.

Despite these warnings from the company to its customers, ICO claims that Snap failed to assess the feature before releasing it to UK users.

“The provisional findings of our investigation suggest a worrying failure by Snap to adequately identify and assess the privacy risks to children and other users before launching ‘My AI,’” ICO Commissioner John Edwards shares his statement. “We have been clear that organisations must consider the risks associated with AI, alongside the benefits. Today’s preliminary enforcement notice shows we will take action in order to protect UK consumers’ privacy rights.”

The regulator, nonetheless, notes that the findings are just provisional and that Snap can still have representations to change these negative views. In case it fails, ICO says, “Snap may be required to stop processing data in connection with ‘My AI,’” meaning “not offering the ‘My AI’ product to UK users pending Snap carrying out an adequate risk assessment.”

According to data firm SensorTower, the application was the company’s top-grossing app last month and is currently Snap’s most downloaded app. In case the feature is banned, it could have a significant effect on Snap’s business as the UK has millions of Snapchat users. In May 2023, ICO says Snapchat gained 21 million monthly active users.


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