April 16, 2024
  • On Friday, Catherine Szpindor, the House’s Chief Administrative Officer, announced that Microsoft Copilot will be banned from all staff devices.
  • In response, Microsoft has decided to create a new suite of AI tools that will meet government security standards
  • Szpindor’s office said that they will be willing to test this new version once it comes out

US Congress Decides to Ban Microsoft Copilot from Staff Devices

The U.S. House of Representatives has decided to ban Microsoft’s Copilot generative AI assistant, according to a report by Axios.

The Microsoft Copilot application has been deemed by the Office of Cybersecurity to be a risk to users due to the threat of leaking House data to non-House approved cloud services.Catherine Szpindor, the House’s Chief Administrative Officer

Ever since AI tools hit the market, data security has been a huge concern. There have been way too many instances of data breaches from such tools.

For example, in March 2023, ChatGPT had to be taken offline for a while because it was leaking user chat history. A bug was found in the open-source library that leaked the information of 1.2% of their users to strangers.

Leaked data also included payment information.

The situation is so bad that even companies like Samsung and Apple have restricted their employees from using AI chatbots like ChatGPT over security concerns.

Now, government devices often host sensitive information which calls for a better level of security. Keeping this in mind, the authorities have decided to not only ban Microsoft Copilot but actively block it from all devices.

Read more: ChatGPT under fire for violating privacy laws in Italy

How Did Microsoft Take This News?

Microsoft representatives said that they understand the concerns of the government and the need for more secure tools.

The company has promised to create a new suite of government-friendly AI tools that will meet the strict federal government security and regulatory standards.

The project is at a very early stage so we don’t have any official release date, but Microsoft said that we can expect it in the latter half of 2024.

This news has already reached Szpindor and her office clarified that for now, they are only banning the commercial version of the tool. When the government version comes out, it will be evaluated and a decision will be made accordingly.

This isn’t the first time that an AI tool has been banned for Congress staff over security concerns. In June 2023, similar usage restrictions were also imposed on ChatGPT.

The free version of ChatGPT was completely banned and the paid version was allowed only because it offered better privacy features. But even then, some extra rules had to be followed such as:

  • They were only allowed to use it for research and evaluation
  • All the privacy settings had to be enabled at all times, with no exceptions
  • On top of that, users were not allowed to copy-paste any data on the app that was not already public

AI has huge powers to transform our society. But unless we have strict rules in place, it can also quickly turn into a privacy nightmare, The government is already taking steps. Starting with the executive order issued by Biden last year to the recent announcement of new rules on how federal agencies can use AI tools, everything is falling into place steadily.

But until AI is completely safe to integrate, it’s best that government staff are careful about the type of tools they use.

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