Technology

OpenAI and Microsoft face allegations of data theft in a recent class-action lawsuit targeting the training of ChatGPT.

On September 5, OpenAI and Microsoft found themselves as defendants in a new class-action lawsuit.

The suit accuses the companies of utilizing web scraping methods to acquire private data without permission,

which was allegedly used to train ChatGPT and other AI models.

A law firm representing two anonymous engineers initiated the lawsuit in San Francisco.

The case is currently registered with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

“This class action lawsuit arises from Defendants’ unlawful and harmful conduct in developing, marketing, and operating 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, from hundreds of millions of internet users, including children of all ages, without their informed consent or knowledge.”

The recently filed lawsuit alleges that OpenAI intensified its efforts to clandestinely gather substantial volumes of personal data from the internet following a restructuring in 2019.

The complaint highlights the company’s purported commitment to this strategy,

which is the subject of legal scrutiny and has prompted the class-action lawsuit.

Lawsuit Seeks Damages and Disgorgement from OpenAI and Microsoft Over Alleged Illegal Data Scraping

In the filed document, the plaintiffs are seeking damages for themselves and other potential class members,

encompassing individuals whose information was allegedly subjected to scraping.

Furthermore, the lawsuit requests the court to mandate the defendants to engage in “nonrestitutionary disgorgement,”

which involves surrendering profits obtained from the alleged unlawful data scraping practices.

Scraping involves the automated collection of data from the internet using bots,

commonly referred to as “crawlers.”

The recently filed lawsuit accuses OpenAI and Microsoft of knowingly engaging in “illegal” scraping activities.

Another class-action lawsuit, mirroring the claims made in this case,

was previously filed on June 28 within the same court district.

It remains uncertain if the court or defendants will consider consolidating these separate suits at this time.

Microsoft has faced legal disputes related to scraping in the past.

In 2019, the company took action on behalf of its LinkedIn brand by sending a cease-and-desist order to data analytics firm HiQ due to its acknowledged data scraping practices.

During that case, Microsoft and LinkedIn claimed that HiQ had violated the terms of service agreement required for accessing user data on the LinkedIn website.

Initially, the circuit court ruled in favor of HiQ, but Microsoft appealed the decision,

leading the Supreme Court to overturn the judgment.

Subsequently, the case returned to the circuit court, where Microsoft emerged victorious.

Microsoft and HiQ reached a settlement for an undisclosed sum, which required HiQ to cease its scraping activities.

As of now, there has been no immediate response from Microsoft or OpenAI regarding the recent lawsuit.

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