OPENAI, the developer of the popular generative AI chatbot, ChatGPT, has begun geoblocking access to its service in Italy. This decision comes after the local data protection authority ordered OpenAI to halt processing Italians’ data for the ChatGPT service.
As a result, there has been a significant surge in VPN downloads in Italy, with a staggering 400% increase in usage.
During March, Italians installed one of the top 10 VPN apps about 4213 times on average daily. However, on the day OpenAI announced its geoblock in Italy, VPN installs jumped by 121%, which is equal to 9302 downloads.
On April 1st, VPN downloads originating in Italy skyrocketed by 404%. The following day, the total number of VPN installs was 359% larger than the March average. Finally, on April 3rd, the downloads started to slow down but were still significantly higher at 270% above the pre-ban levels of ChatGPT services.
While users can use a VPN to bypass the block by switching to a non-Italian IP address, ChatGPT accounts initially registered in Italy may no longer be available. Consequently, users may need to create a new account using a non-Italian IP address to access ChatGPT.
Cybersecurity writer at Atlas VPN, Vilius Kardelis, shares his thoughts on Apple overtaking Samsung as the most popular smartphone:
“The ChatGPT geoblock in Italy and the subsequent surge in VPN usage highlight that people will try to access the online services they need, despite internet restrictions. This is a powerful reminder of the importance of internet freedom and the role that tools like VPNs can play in ensuring access to information and communication.”