Google's Bard will not be released in the EU for the time being as the company must now answer European privacy questions.
Google has been forced to delay the launch of its AI chatbot Bard in the European Union after privacy concerns were raised by the Irish Data Protection Commission, the EU's top data protection regulator.
The regulator said Google had not provided enough information about how Bard would protect the privacy of European users, in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
How does Bard comply with EU data protection?
The Irish data protection watchdog said it had asked the company to provide a detailed assessment and answer additional questions about how Bard complies with EU data protection rules, and expected the company to do so "as a matter of urgency."
Google's Bard is already available in 180 countries, including the US and the UK, but has avoided EU countries because of strict data protection rules.
“We said in May that we wanted to make Bard more widely available, including in the European Union, and that we would do so responsibly, after engagement with experts, regulators and policymakers," said a Google spokesperson. "As part of that process, we’ve been talking with privacy regulators to address their questions and hear feedback.”
Google's competition is already in the European market
OpenAI's rival product ChatGPT and Microsoft's Bing chatbot are already available in the European Union. In March, ChatGPT was temporarily banned in Italy, but was re-approved after OpenAI made changes. In addition to Italy, data protection authorities in other EU countries such as Germany and Spain have launched investigations into ChatGPT, and there is a European-level task force evaluating the tool.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Monday that Google DeepMind, OpenAI, and Anthropic will open up their AI models for research and security purposes in the UK. This is likely to include the language models behind Bard. The forthcoming EU AI Act could also force companies in the EU to disclose their algorithms.