House of Representatives bans the use of Copilot over security concerns

What just happened? Microsoft has been dealt some more bad news related to its Copilot generative AI assistant: The US House of Representatives has issued a strict ban on congressional staffers using the tool over security fears. It now joins ChatGPT on the House’s list of banned and restricted AI tools.

In guidance to congressional offices issued by The House’s Chief Administrative Officer, Catherine Szpindor, and seen by Axios, it’s stated that Copilot is “unauthorized for House use.” The guidance adds that Copilot will be removed from and blocked on all Windows devices controlled by the House.

Szpindor said that the Office of Cybersecurity had deemed Copilot to be a risk to users due to the threat of leaking House data to non-House-approved cloud services.

Microsoft is planning to roll out a suite of government-focused tools this summer, which it says meet federal government security and compliance requirements. The Redmond company hopes these will address Congress’ concerns.

“We recognize that government users have higher security requirements for data. That’s why we announced a roadmap of Microsoft AI tools, like Copilot,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Reuters.

Szpindor’s office said that the guidance applies to the commercial version of Copilot, adding that the government version will be evaluated when it becomes available and a determination regarding its use will be made at that time.

For all the hype over generative AI, plenty of large companies and organizations have banned the use of the most popular tool of them all, ChatGPT. Amazon, Apple, Samsung, the World Economic Forum, Bank of America, and Verizon are just some of the big names that have implemented total bans or restrictions on OpenAI’s generative AI among employees. House staffers were restricted from using the paid-for version of ChatGPT last year, limiting inputs to non-sensitive data, while use of the free version was banned altogether.

Microsoft has been aggressively pushing Copilot recently, launching a Pro subscription, quietly installing the Copilot app on Windows PCs, and releasing the new Surface Pro 10 and Surface Laptop 6 with dedicated Copilot buttons. However, according to a new report, Copilot for Microsoft 365 customers are complaining that it isn’t as good as ChatGPT, despite being built on top of the same technology. Microsoft believes the issue lies with people who aren’t using Copilot correctly or don’t understand the differences between the two products.

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