Google kicked off its I/O 2023 conference by showing off some weird AI experiments. The keynote speech that followed was packed with AI-centric announcements, and a much wider availability of Google Bard was certainly among the critical ones.
Leaving behind the waiting list, Google launched Bard in more than 180 countries around the world, but “forgot” one important geopolitical region – the European Union (EU).
Google provided a list of 180 countries and regions where Bard is now available for preview testing. The support page also confirms that you can interact with the chatbot in three languages: US English, Japanese, and Korean, with 40 more languages to be added soon. But the list does not include any EU countries.
Without explicitly acknowledging its absence from the EU, Google says it will "expand to more countries in a manner consistent with local regulations." However, despite the obvious reason, it is easy to relate the decision to the strict regulations regarding user privacy in the EU, especially the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR.
Google's caution is warranted given Italy's recent temporary ban on Bard's competitor — ChatGPT. Italy reported a ChatGPT data leak from March of 2023, which prompted its data protection officer to share his concerns about the illegal collection of user data.
Although Italy eventually allowed ChatGPT to continue in the country under certain conditions, the move inspired other countries in the EU to introduce regulations around the responsible and legal use of AI tools.