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AI chatbot mired in legal dispute over data collection

(Lee Luda’s Instagram)
(Lee Luda’s Instagram)
Artificial intelligence-based chatbot Lee Luda, which ended this month in ethical and data collection controversy, faces lawsuits on charges of violating personal information.

On Friday, around 400 people filed a class action suit against the creator of the chatbot, Seoul-based startup Scatter Lab, claiming their personal information was leaked in the process of developing and providing the service.

Launched on Dec. 23, Lee Luda, an AI chatbot service designed to imitate a 20-year-old college student, instantly drew over 400,000 users with its ability to communicate in a human-like manner. But the service ended only a week later, after numerous issues were raised with the bot, such as discriminatory expressions, personal information protection and artificial intelligence ethics.

“We will close the applications (today) and review later whether to collect additional victims,” Taerim, the law firm representing the victims, said Friday

The defendants submitted an application for preservation of evidence against Scatterlab with the Seoul Eastern District Court the day before. They asked the court to ensure that Scatter Lab preserved the database built using users’ KakaoTalk conversations as evidence for their case.

Scatter Lab collected KakaoTalk conversations of users through its relationship analysis apps Science of Love and Text At to create Lee Luda. After collecting about 10 billion KakaoTalk conversations, 100 million of them are thought to have been collected and used in Lee Luda’s database.

The government organizations -- the Personal Information Protection Committee and the Korea Internet & Security Agency -- are also separately investigating whether the service violated the personal information protection law.

A day earlier, civic groups, People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Korean Progressive Network Center and Lawyers for Democratic Society, filed a complaint with the Personal Information Protection Committee, calling for a thorough investigation of Scatter Lab.

They said they suspected that the startup did not go through appropriate legal procedures for service users, and used data collected to an extent beyond what users agreed to.

The civic groups blamed the current government, saying it only “emphasized fostering the ‘big data industry,’ and pushed for revision of the law.”

They added that “In the process, the rights of information subjects were thoroughly treated as ‘incidental damage.’”

“Even now, we need to overhaul the relevant legislation to prevent further damage.”

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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