AI chatbots to fall under new online safety laws

Tech companies could be punished if systems such as ChatGPT show harmful content to children.

AI chatbots such as ChatGPT will need to adhere to the Online Safety Bill, the Government has said.

The move was confirmed by Lord Parkinson, a junior minister in the department for culture, media and sport, when asked the question in parliament, reported The Telegraph.

The controversial legislation, which aims to rewrite the rules governing the internet, is currently being drafted in parliament.  

The inclusion of bots in the scope of the bill means tech firms could be punished if the systems promote self-harm, eating disorder and other harmful content to youngsters.

The new law, which will likely come into effect next year, will cover both search results generated by chatbots and content that the systems post on social media.

The minister stated: “The Online Safety Bill has been designed to be technology-neutral to future-proof it and to ensure that the legislation keeps pace with emerging technologies.

“Content generated by artificial intelligence ‘bots’ is in scope of the Bill, where it interacts with user-generated content, such as on Twitter. Search services using AI-powered features will also be in scope of the search duties outlined in the Bill.”

ChatGPT, launched by OpenAI last November, is capable of generating human-like text and can be used for all kinds including writing essays and code software. It already has an estimated 100 million users, but it’s not without its critics, including concerns regarding cheating and plagiarism, racism and sexism and that it exhibits a left-wing bias.

Microsoft is integrating ChatGPT into its search engine Bing, and Google is working on a competitor bot called Bard.

Bing chatbot has reportedly used threatening language towards a user and produced inaccurate results. 

The worries about cheating has led to several schools and universities banning AI bots.

The bill in its current form would make social media companies obligated to prevent children from being exposed to harmful content online. It would hold tech bosses criminally liable for failing to remove illegal content or failing to censor posts involved in cyberbullying or promoting self-harm.

The new law, to be enforced by Ofcom, would see firms heavily fined or in extreme cases executives sent to prison for repeated breaches.

Gooseberry Planet offers a package of over 50 lesson plans, slides, digital workbooks and online games for children aged 5-13 years. Visit our website for more details.

Scroll to Top