Google faces lawsuit for stealing data from millions of users to train its AI tools

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    Google, along with its parent company Alphabet and AI subsidiary DeepMind, is facing a comprehensive lawsuit alleging unauthorized data scraping and copyright violations in the development of its artificial intelligence (AI) products. Filed by Clarkson Law Firm in a federal court in California, the proposed class action suit claims that Google has surreptitiously gathered data from millions of Americans and utilized it to train AI systems like the chatbot Bard. The complaint asserts that Google has essentially appropriated the entire digital footprint of users, including copyrighted works, to fuel its AI endeavors.

    The lawsuit highlights a recent revision in Google’s privacy policy, explicitly stating the company’s utilization of publicly accessible information to train its AI models and tools, including Bard. In response to a Verge report on this update, Google stated that it has always been transparent about using publicly available information to train language models, such as Google Translate, and the update merely clarifies the inclusion of newer services like Bard.

    This legal action emerges amidst growing attention towards AI tools that possess the capability to generate written content and images based on user inputs. However, companies utilizing large language models for training are now facing increased scrutiny over potential copyright infringement and the use of personal data, including that of minors, as illustrated by the allegations against Google.

    Tim Giordano, one of the attorneys representing Clarkson, emphasized the importance of Google comprehending that publicly available data does not equate to being free to use for any purpose. He stated that personal information and data are valuable assets that individuals own, and no entity should have the right to take and exploit them without consent.

    The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief, aiming for a temporary halt on commercial access to and development of Google’s generative AI tools like Bard. Additionally, it demands unspecified compensation and damages for individuals whose data was allegedly misused by Google. Clarkson has identified eight plaintiffs, including a minor.

    Giordano highlighted the contrasting effects of Google’s typical indexing of online content to support its search engine and the alleged data scraping for AI training purposes. While the search engine provides attribution and drives engagement with original works, data scraping distorts the incentives for individuals to purchase or engage with the content by creating alternative versions. Giordano stressed that most people could not have anticipated their information being exploited in this manner for AI training.

    Ryan Clarkson, a partner at the law firm, emphasized the need for Google to offer individuals the option to opt out of having their data used for AI training while still maintaining their ability to use the internet for everyday purposes.

    Read more: Google launches Gemini: The groundbreaking AI project set to outperform ChatGPT


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