Department of Business, Innovation and Employment Blocks Staff from Using AI Tech

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The Department of Business, Innovation and Employment has banned employees from using artificial intelligence technologies such as ChatGPT, citing data and privacy risks.

Similar steps have been taken overseas by many large banks and technology companies, including Apple and Samsung.

New Zealand still does not have government-wide regulations or guidelines on the use of artificial intelligence by ministries.


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Please proceed with caution due to privacy concerns

MBIE blocked staff access to many AI tools, including ChatGPT, in March, according to the documents.

The ministry was concerned that officials could incorporate sensitive information into technology, which could later resurface.

MBIE has hit the pause button while we determine if this technology is safe to use.

Nicky Chamberlain, a senior law lecturer at the University of Auckland and an expert in AI law, said it’s wise to be cautious.


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“This is new technology and we don’t know the impact yet.

“Time will tell if the information you put there is protected and kept private.”

There are no AI-specific regulations or laws in New Zealand, and an internal MBIE document states that “there are no rules or guidelines for all government agencies regarding the use of personnel.” [of] AI Tools”.

A spokesman for the government’s chief digital officer at the Home Office said the government is working on guidance for government agencies and will be out soon.

It said its DIA staff were not banned from using AI tools.

Privacy Commissioner Michael Webster said it is up to individual government agencies and companies to decide whether and how they use AI.

“And if the risk is too high, I expect they won’t proceed with the proposal.”

Frith Tweedy of consulting firm Simply Privacy said staff needed guidance and safeguards.

“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to pause during consideration. I think every government agency should take a stand on proper and improper use.

“And sometimes, especially for those dealing with sensitive information, outright bans are appropriate.”


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Many overseas companies prohibit the use of AI by employees

ChatGPT is trained by inputting information from the Internet to spit out full-text answers to questions by predicting the next word in a sequence.

It contains a large amount of unvetted information and is essentially a locked box that, once entered, is nearly impossible to retrieve.

Canada’s privacy watchdog has launched an investigation into OpenAI’s Chat GPT technology, and Italy has suspended the product’s use, citing privacy concerns.

Many international companies, including Apple, Samsung, Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs, have banned or restricted their employees from using the technology.

AI-related bills are needed

Last month, OpenAI tightened some of ChatGPT’s privacy settings, but tweaks are still ongoing and privacy questions remain.

“I advise organizations and individuals to be vigilant and make sure to turn off chat history, but I still want to avoid entering confidential or personal information,” Tweedy said. rice field.


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Europe has much tougher privacy laws and much tougher sanctions than Aotearoa.

Chamberlain said New Zealand needs legislation covering AI.

“Until we have laws regulating the use of AI, the information it holds, and how that information is used in the future, we need to be really careful.”

Meanwhile, the Privacy Commission issued a recommendation late last month to government agencies and businesses to use the technology.

This includes staff considering the need and justification for using AI in the first place.

He said businesses and government agencies should conduct privacy risk impact assessments to identify risk areas to avoid.


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He hopes the public and private sectors will work together to come up with advice on how best to use technology safely.

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