VPN downloads

VPN downloads in Italy shoot up by 400% after ChatGPT block

2 Mins read

After being ordered by the local data protection authority to stop processing data for its ChatGPT service in Italy, OpenAI has begun restricting access to its popular generative AI chatbot in the country. This move has led to a notable rise in VPN usage in Italy, with downloads of VPN apps increasing by a remarkable 400%.

In March, Italians were installing one of the top 10 VPN apps about 4213 times daily on average. However, on the day that OpenAI announced its geoblocking decision in Italy, VPN downloads surged by 121%, reaching a total of 9302 downloads.

vpn installation

VPN downloads originating from Italy saw a dramatic surge of 404% on April 1st. The next day, the total number of VPN installs was 359% higher than the average for March. Although the downloads slowed down on April 3rd, they were still significantly elevated at 270% above the pre-ban levels of ChatGPT services.

Despite the possibility of bypassing the block by using a VPN to switch to a non-Italian IP address, users may not be able to access ChatGPT accounts that were initially registered in Italy. Therefore, they may need to create a new account using a non-Italian IP address to access ChatGPT.

Cybersecurity writer at Atlas VPN, Vilius Kardelis, says, “The ChatGPT geoblock in Italy and the subsequent surge in VPN usage highlight that people will try to access the online services they need, despite internet restrictions. This is a powerful reminder of the importance of internet freedom and the role that tools like VPNs can play in ensuring access to information and communication.”

Looking for a VPN

With the ChatGPT service geoblocked in Italy, Italians naturally started searching for ways to circumvent the restriction, leading to an increase in interest in VPNs. According to Google Trends data, the keyword “VPN” gained a lot of traction in Italy following the ChatGPT ban. Google Trends assigns a value of 0 to 100 to indicate search interest, with 100 representing peak popularity for a term.

In the days leading up to the ChatGPT geoblock, Italians’ interest in VPNs was relatively low, hovering around the 15 point mark at the end of March. However, on April 1st, interest skyrocketed from 14 to 100, indicating a 600% surge. Interest in VPNs remained high in the following days, never dropping below 50.

vpn searches

The geoblocking of ChatGPT in Italy and the resulting increase in VPN usage demonstrate that individuals will seek ways to access necessary online services, despite restrictions. This serves as a significant reminder of the value of internet freedom and the critical role that tools like VPNs can play in enabling access to communication and information.

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