AI chatbots to be subject to UK Online Safety Bill

A DCMS minister has revealed that AI chatbots will need to adhere to the UK Online Safety Bill, which is being drafted in parliament

According to Lord Parkinson, a junior minister in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport — who responded to a question in Parliament regarding the prospective legislation — content generated by AI chatbots such as OpenAI‘s ChatGPT and Google‘s Bard will fall within the bill‘s scope, reported The Telegraph.

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.”

By keeping such software regulated, tech companies may be penalised in the event that self-harm, eating disorder content and other possibly harmful information is promoted to young users.

The possible role of government regulation

The Online Safety Bill, to be enforced by Ofcom, currently requires websites such as social networks and search engines to protect users from harmful content that is “legal but harmful”, the themes of which may include abuse, harassment or self-harm.

Organisations found to be in breach of the regulations can be fined, or in severe cases executives responsible for harm may be jailed.

While large language models are capable of facilitating fast and human-like answers to an array of queries and conversational remarks, as well as creating poems and essays, concerns have been raised around potentially harmful content — particularly to children — and misinformation, due to a lack of training boundaries.

Chatbots are also susceptible to political bias depending on the data used to train them, as evidenced by developments such as ChatGPT’s refusal to recognise the achievements of US Republicans while readily praising Democrats, and a recent experiment demonstrating various answers based on UK newspapers used to train ChatGPT’s algorithm.

Several schools and universities have opted to ban students from using ChatGPT as a writing aid for coursework.


ChatGPT vs GDPR – what AI chatbots mean for data privacyWhile OpenAI’s ChatGPT is taking the large language model space by storm, there is much to consider when it comes to data privacy.

The role of ChatGPT in the future of customer serviceGiven the emergence of ChatGPT and other chatbots, we consider how the role of such AI-powered technology in customer service could manifest itself in the coming years.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.