Children’s Privacy: Replika uses AI, offers friendship…takes data. Told to stop!

Italy’s regulator, the Guarantor for the Protection of Personal Data (GPDP), has ordered US-based AI chatbot maker, Replika to stop processing Italian user data because of risks the technology can pose to minors and to some adults. The freemium app offers ‘virtual friendship’ via AI avatars trained to foster human engagement. Concerns include that some content is not age-appropriate for children, that children and emotionally vulnerable adults could develop addiction to the app, and that users will be encouraged to spend lots of money on avatar development.