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Microsoft restricts employee access to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, citing security concerns

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks during the OpenAI DevDay event on November 06, 2023 in San Francisco, California. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman delivered the keynote address at the first ever Open AI DevDay conference.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Microsoft has invested billions of dollars in OpenAI. But employees of the software company aren’t allowed to use the startup’s most famous product, ChatGPT, CNBC has learned.

“Due to security and data concerns a number of AI tools are no longer available for employees to use,” Microsoft said in an update on an internal website.

Microsoft and OpenAI representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“While it is true that Microsoft has invested in OpenAI, and that ChatGPT has built-in safeguards to prevent improper use, the website is nevertheless a third-party external service,” Microsoft said. “That means you must exercise caution using it due to risks of privacy and security. This goes for any other external AI services, such as Midjourney or Replika, as well.”

Many large companies have restricted access ChatGPT, often to prevent the sharing of confidential data. Having been trained on extensive internet data, ChatGPT composes human-like responses to people’s chat messages. The service has over 100 million users.

The ChatGPT website was blocked on Microsoft workers’ internal devices as of Thursday afternoon.

The update recommends people use Microsoft’s own Bing Chat tool, which relies on OpenAI artificial intelligence models. The two companies are closely tied. Microsoft has also been busy this year bringing out updates to its Windows operating system and Office applications that take advantage of OpenAI services, which in turn run on Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure.

Earlier this week, CEO Satya Nadella appeared onstage alongside OpenAI’s Sam Altman at the startup’s first developer conference.

In January a high-ranking Microsoft engineer wrote in a forum that employees could use ChatGPT but advised against entering confidential information, Insider reported.

WATCH: OpenAI on pace for $1.3 billion in 2023 revenue, up 4543% from last year

OpenAI on pace for $1.3 billion in 2023 revenue, up 4543% from last year

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