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Google's AI ambitions just hit another major roadblock

If you live in the EU, you probably won't have access to Google Bard for a while.

Published onJune 14, 2023

Stock photo of Google Bard website on phone 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • Google Bard will not appear in the EU anytime soon.
  • The Irish Data Protection Commission has concerns about protecting user privacy.
  • Bard is not blocked permanently, but it could be a long while before it lands in Europe.

As of today, Google Bard is available in the United States and many other countries as an “experiment.” Users can get full access to all its current features, but there are numerous warnings about the volatile nature of generative AI, especially as it pertains to factual information. Initially, Google planned to roll out support to more countries soon, including Europe. However, that plan has hit a bit of a snag.

According to Politico, the Irish Data Protection Commission has serious concerns about the privacy implications of Bard. The watchdog group questioned Google on these matters but felt the company didn’t provide enough information about how the tool protects Europeans’ privacy. In fact, the agency said it “had not had any detailed briefing nor sight of a data protection impact assessment or any supporting documentation at this point.”

As such, Google Bard will not launch in the EU anytime soon.

Fortunately for Google, this is just a roadblock and not an all-out ban. The company just needs to take the time to work with European regulators to ensure that Bard abides by the GDPR and other EU-centric rules. Assuming it can do that, Bard should launch in the EU at some point in the future.

“We said in May that we wanted to make Bard more widely available, including in the European Union, and that we would do so responsibly, after engagement with experts, regulators, and policymakers,” said a Google spokesperson. “As part of that process, we’ve been talking with privacy regulators to address their questions and hear feedback.”

Of course, if Google can’t adequately prove Bard is safe for users from a privacy perspective, it could have a big problem. Google’s AI rollouts are moving at a breakneck speed as the company tries to catch up with Open AI and its ChatGPT tool as well as Microsoft’s Bing Chat. If it can’t launch Bard in the EU — or faces a significant delay — its potential of dominating the market could be knocked out at the knees.

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