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House restricts congressional use of ChatGPT



Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

On Monday, the House set up new rules around how congressional offices can use ChatGPT and declared that any non-ChatGPT chatbots are not yet authorized, according to a new report from Axios.

In a Monday memo, House Chief Administrative Chief Catherine L. Szpindor said that lawmakers and staff were now limited to using ChatGPT Plus, the paid version of the chatbot, due to its enhanced privacy features. Offices can only use the product for “research and evaluation” with privacy settings enabled and are forbidden from pasting “any blocks of text that have not already been made public” into the service.

A number of private companies, including Samsung and Apple, have restricted or banned employees from using generative AI tools like ChatGPT. They’ve cited fears that confidential data might leak through the tools — fears that are backed by some previous OpenAI privacy blunders, like a bug that temporarily exposed users’ chat histories to each other.

“No other versions of ChatGPT or other large language models AI software are authorized for use in the House currently,” Szpindor wrote in Monday’s memo.

Monday’s announcement comes a few days after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on Congress to hurry up and pass new legislation to regulate the artificial intelligence industry. He also put out a new framework detailing Congress’ areas of focus, including AI’s potential risks to national security and job loss.

“AI could be our most spectacular innovation yet, a force that could ignite a new era of technological advancement, scientific discovery, and industrial might,” Schumer said last week. “The first issue we must tackle is encouraging, not stifling, innovation. But if people don’t think innovation can be done safely, that will stifle AI’s development and even prevent us from moving forward.”

Senate and House lawmakers have already introduced a handful of bills to regulate the industry this year. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) recently put out a measure that would ensure Section 230 wouldn’t apply to AI companies, opening the companies and their products up to legal liability. Congress has also begun conversations with major industry figures — the Senate granted Sam Altman, CEO of ChatGPT’s creator OpenAI, a warm welcome in May.

Other measures would ask federal agencies to review their AI policies or create a new commission to study and establish new rules for the industry.


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