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OpenAI and Microsoft Face Privacy Allegations: Lawsuit Withdrawn

In a significant legal development, a group comprising 16 undisclosed plaintiffs has taken a step back by voluntarily withdrawing a comprehensive 151-page lawsuit aimed at OpenAI and tech giant Microsoft Corp. This lawsuit had made grave assertions, stating the companies had illicitly collected personal data for the creation of ChatGPT, leading to a looming “AI arms race”. The accusations went as far as to suggest that such advancements “would obliterate privacy as we know it.”

The official documentation submitted on Friday to U.S. District Judge Trina Thompson in San Francisco confirmed the plaintiffs’ intent to withdraw the case, noting it was without prejudice. The reasons for this action, however, remain unclear. When prompted, the Clarkson Law Firm, representing the plaintiffs, opted to remain silent on the matter.

Both the defendants had a robust defense lineup. OpenAI was backed by Cooley attorneys, whereas Microsoft sought representation through the renowned Covington & Burling.

The original complaint, instituted on 28 June 2023, was a clarion call demanding immediate safeguards, notably the cessation of covert “harvesting” of personal data. It also called for companies to be more transparent about their data collection mechanisms. The litigants didn’t hold back, stating that the tech firms’ “disregard for privacy laws is matched only by their disregard for the potentially catastrophic risk to humanity.” This sentiment was amplified by referencing a statement from OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman: “AI will probably most likely lead to the end of the world, but in the meantime, there’ll be great companies.”

Interestingly, among the plaintiffs were minors who drew attention to the timely emergence of the generative artificial intelligence platform, hinting at its correlation with the reported surge in teen mental health issues. The case was also paralleled with legal challenges faced by Clearview AI over internet data scraping for facial recognition tech.

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As the legal community and public await more details, Mike Rhode of Cooley’s chose not to comment. Similarly, Covington’s representatives were not available for immediate comment as of Friday afternoon.

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