UK watchdog warns chatbot developers over data protection laws

UK watchdog has warned chatbot developers that they must comply with data protection laws or face the consequences.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has warned that firms developing chatbots must ensure that they comply with data protection legislation when using people's data.

The warning comes as the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbot technology is increasing in the UK.

The ICO said that the use of chatbot technology can be beneficial to businesses, but warned that any data collected and stored must be done so in accordance with the law.

The ICO's Deputy Commissioner, Steve Wood, said: “Chatbots are becoming commonplace and are increasingly being used to provide services to customers. However, as with any use of personal data, there are data protection rules that must be followed.

“Firms must be aware of the data protection rules and make sure they are taking steps to comply with them. This includes ensuring that the data being collected is necessary, that it is kept secure and that it is not used for any purpose other than the one for which it was collected.

“We would urge firms to take this opportunity to review their use of chatbot technology and make sure they are taking steps to comply with data protection law.”

The ICO warned that failure to comply with the data protection legislation could lead to enforcement action, including fines.

The warning comes as the UK government is preparing to launch its AI sector deal, which will invest in the development of AI and chatbot technology.

The ICO's warning serves as a reminder that, as the use of AI and chatbot technology grows, so too must the protections that are in place to protect people's data.