Microsoft responds to restricting staff access to ChatGPT due to “security and data concerns


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Microsoft, one of the largest investors in OpenAI, temporarily restricted employee access to OpenAI’s ChatGPT on Thursday, November 9, 2023, citing “security and data concerns”. The restriction was quickly reversed, and access to ChatGPT was restored after the company identified its error.

ChatGPT performance

Background

ChatGPT is a popular AI chatbot created by OpenAI that composes human-like responses to people’s chat messages. The service has over 100 million users and has been trained on extensive internet data. Microsoft has invested over $13 billion in OpenAI. However, a CNBC report reveals that¬†Microsoft staff were temporarily banned from accessing ChatGPT. At the time of the ban, there were claims that Microsoft restricted access to ChatGPT for some staff due to security and privacy concerns.

According to claims by some reports, Microsoft had to remove access to AI tools for its staff due to “security and data concerns.” However, the company did clear the air and said

“While it is true that Microsoft has invested in OpenAI, and that ChatGPT has built-in safeguards to prevent improper use, the website is nevertheless a third-party external service. That means you must exercise caution using it due to risks of privacy and security. This goes for any other external AI services, such as Midjourney or Replika, as well.”

Microsoft’s Response

A Microsoft spokesperson said that the temporary access ban occurred when the company was testing the Large Language Model (LLM). He said that there was an error during the LLM terminal control system testing. However, it recommended employees use Bing Chat Enterprise and ChatGPT Enterprise. The staff claims that the above products have better security and Privacy. The spokesperson made it clear that the ban was a mistake and not intentional.

In a statement to CNBC, Microsoft said

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We were testing endpoint control systems for LLMs and inadvertently turned them on for all employees. We restored service shortly after we identified our error. As we have said previously, we encourage employees and customers to use services like Bing Chat Enterprise and ChatGPT Enterprise that come with greater levels of privacy and security protections.

Microsoft Surface

Reactions and Implications

The temporary block on ChatGPT access by Microsoft employees has raised concerns about the use of AI services such as ChatGPT. Many large brands have restricted access to ChatGPT, often to prevent the sharing of confidential data. The incident highlights the need for companies to be cautious when using third-party AI services.

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It is important to state at this point that there is no need to make a mountain out of a molehill. There is no need for an in-depth analysis of this topic and here is the reason. Microsoft has come out to officially say what happened is an error. After the company realized its mistakes, it quickly tackled the situation and everything lasted only a few minutes. The company release this statement to keep the public informed so people will not think there are other implications to what happened beyond the error that Microsoft made.

Microsoft was simply testing a new terminal and in the process of testing mistakenly removed access to ChatGPT for some employees. We all know that generative AI needs to be upgraded from time to time. The competition in the market is also high and this means Microsoft has to continue to work. Thus, we expect the company to be testing new features that will make the system better. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that the company was testing an LLM terminal control system.

Final Words

Microsoft temporarily restricted employee access to OpenAI’s ChatGPT due to security and data concerns. However, the restriction was quickly reversed after the company identified its error. The incident highlights the need for companies to exercise caution when using third-party AI services. Brands also have to ensure that user data remains secure.

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