Dropbox has engaged in a partnership with OpenAI, initiating a default setting that channels user data to the AI research organization for an AI-assisted search feature called Dash. The feature, which requires access to users' files to function effectively, is built upon AI language models like GPT-4. Despite the public's initial unease, Dropbox affirms that the data shared with OpenAI is not employed to train AI models and is expunged within 30 days.
Data Privacy and User Control
In light of user unease over the automatic, default activation of this data sharing, Dropbox has made clarifications. The CEO, Drew Houston, asserts that Dropbox's customer data is never automatically or passively transferred to any third-party AI service without the user's engagement. Adjusting the third-party AI setting does not automatically enable the new AI features but allows users to trial them. Transparency is upheld, as features that utilize third-party AI are disclosed, and users retain the capacity to manage these settings.
Great example here of how careful companies need to be in clearly communicating what's going on with AI access to personal data https://t.co/j22X2zL3Ev
— Simon Willison (@simonw) December 13, 2023
Steps for Disabling the AI Feature
For users who elect to keep their data private and refrain from utilizing the AI-driven functionalities, Dropbox has simplified the process of disabling the feature. Users can navigate to the “Third-party AI” section within their account settings and turn off the option to use artificial intelligence from third-party partners. This ensures that customers maintain supervision over their interaction with these features.
Still, any customer confusion about this is on us, and we'll take a turn to make sure all this is abundantly clear! More broadly, our AI principles are available here: https://t.co/vy2uM1nf1i
— Drew Houston (@drewhouston) December 13, 2023
While Dropbox's new AI enhancements offer modernizations in file searching and data management, the concern for data consent has necessitated a response from the company in assuring its user base of continued privacy and control. Earlier this year, Dropbox announced a transition from its unlimited storage policy to a metered storage system for its Advanced plan. This decision comes in light of a surge in unconventional usage of the service.