In a recent blog post, part-qualified patent attorney Euan Devlin discussed the recent  lawsuit filed by the Author’s Guild, against OpenAI on grounds of copyright infringement.

This week, Dr Frederika Phipps explores more actions being taken against AI companies based on their products. Snap Inc have been issued with a preliminary enforcement notice by the UK Information Commissioner, due to their generative AI chatbot.



The Information Commissioner’s office (ICO) is an independent regulatory body that was set up to uphold information rights and they report directly to the UK government. For example, they are responsible for upholding data protection and enforce compliance with data protection laws, such as the Data Protection Act or the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. They exist to protect individuals’ privacy and to ensure that both public and private entities handle personal information properly. The UK ‘Information Commissioner’ is the head of the ICO.

Snap Inc and its UK subsidiary, Snap Group Limited (Snap), are a technology company. They were founded in 2011 and are headquartered in the United States. You may have heard of a popular mobile app and social media platform called Snapchat®. Snapchat® is an application famed for disappearing messages and the ability to send single view videos and pictures to your friends over the app. It is a popular app amongst children and teenagers due to these features, with 90% of 13–24-year-olds in the UK using the app[1].

Snapchat® and AI

Earlier this year, Snap released the latest feature for Snapchat®: a generative AI chatbot known as ‘My AI’. This feature is branded as “your personal chatbot sidekick” and it allows users to send messages to and have conversations with an AI chatbot. The ‘My AI’ feature is built upon the latest version of OpenAI’s GPT technology which Snap have “customised for Snapchat”[2]. Initially only available to Snapchat+ users (a subscription version of the platform), in April 2023 it was rolled out to all users. Before rolling out ‘My AI’ to all users of the platform, Snap released an article[3] discussing what they have learnt so far about the use of ‘My AI’ by Snapchat+ users. It is important to note that in this article they state: “Before Snapchatters are allowed to use My AI, we show them an onboarding message that makes it clear that all messages with My AI will be retained unless you delete them”. In other words, the data privacy settings when messaging the AI chatbot are different to those when messaging with friends. The reasoning behind this, as stated in the article, is to be able to monitor the use of the chatbot and make sure that potentially harmful content was not being shared, or that the feature was not being misused by users. However, in a later article[4] to announce the roll-out of the feature to all users they also announced that you can “bring MY AI into any of your conversations with friends” and it is not clear which data privacy settings would be used in such a case from the article.

ICO’s Concerns

The ICO have concerns around the risk assessment that was conducted by Snap Inc before the launch of the ‘My AI’ feature and as such have issued a preliminary enforcement notice[5]. This is only provisional at this stage, there have been no conclusions published about whether any breach of data protection laws has occurred. However, from the provisional investigation the ICO has conducted, they are of the belief that the risk assessment conducted by Snap Inc was not adequate in its assessment of the data protection risks posed by ‘My AI’, particularly in relation to children.


We at Scintilla will be watching this space to see if there are any further developments. With the increase in popularity of generative AI tools such as chatbots, increased controversy follows, specifically in the areas of IP ownership and infringement, as well as data and GDPR. It seems that more scrutiny needs to be taken by the developers of such technology when it comes to information gathered for training the AI, as well as the use of the data provided by users of generated AI platforms, such as chatbots.

  • Dr. Frederika Phipps





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