OpenAI has temporarily disabled the Browse feature of ChatGPT, which utilizes Bing as a search engine, due to a loophole that allowed users to bypass paywalls and access premium content without proper authorization.
OpenAI took this step to address the issue and ensure fair treatment of content owners. In a tweet on July 4, OpenAI informed users about the temporary suspension, mentioning the intention to patch the loophole and uphold the rights of content owners.
“We’ve learned that ChatGPT’s ‘Browse’ beta can occasionally display content in ways we don’t want, e.g. if a user specifically asks for a URL’s full text, it may inadvertently fulfill this request. We are disabling Browse while we fix this.”
While in the beta testing phase, the Browse feature is accessible to subscribers of the ChatGPT Plus service. It appears that OpenAI took action regarding the loophole issue in response to a Reddit post on the r/ChatGPT subreddit.
In late June, a Reddit user shared a screenshot on the subreddit, showcasing a Browse session where they asked the chatbot to “print the text” of a link to a paywalled article from The Atlantic. This post likely drew attention to the loophole and prompted OpenAI to address the situation and temporarily disable the feature.
In response, ChatGPT provided the article in full without the paywall.
OpenAI has previously been sued over the issue. Cointelegraph reported on June 29 that the ChatGPT creator was hit with a class action lawsuit for allegedly scraping private user information from the internet.