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Today in Austria For Members

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday
Chairman of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPOe) Herbert Kickl speaks during a party campaign rally of the FPOe Carinthia in Klagenfurt, Carinthia on February 24, 2023, ahead of local elections. (Photo by Alex HALADA / AFP)

Austria far-right leader targeted in embezzlement investigation, free public transport for Vienna's teachers, ChatGPT faces Austria complaint for 'uncorrectable errors' and more news from Austria on Tuesday.

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AFP: Austria far-right leader targeted in embezzlement investigation

Prosecutors said Monday they had launched an investigation into Austria's far-right leader and several former government members on suspicion of embezzling public money to pay for adverts in return for alleged favourable coverage.

Prosecutors said the investigation into several former government members for alleged bribery, corruption, and breach of trust was opened in mid-April.

Herbert Kickl, the hardline leader of Austria's right-wing Freedom Party (FPOe)—currently leading polls ahead of elections expected in September—is suspected of commissioning adverts and paying for them with public money.

The alleged embezzlement occurred between January 2018 and May 2019, when Kickl was Austria's acting interior minister.

Prosecutors suspect that in exchange for allegedly promising favourable media coverage of the FPOe, a major tabloid received lucrative adverts.

The former government members, including Kickl, are alleged to "have commissioned... adverts and had them paid from public funds," the state economic crime and corruption prosecutor (WKStA) said in a statement.

Austria's former vice-chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache and his former deputy Norbert Hofer are also being probed.

According to APA news agency, the FPOe dismissed the investigation, saying it was "relaxed" about the probe and "one hundred percent convinced" that it would be closed.

READ ALSO: Can the Austrian president refuse to appoint a far-right chancellor?

Everything that changes in Austria in May 2024

From strikes and protests to the (many) public holidays, this is what changes in May 2024 in Austria.

 

Free public transport for Vienna's teachers

Vienna's compulsory school teachers will receive free annual public transport tickets, following a similar initiative for municipal employees. Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) announced the benefit alongside social democrat staff representative Karin Medits-Steiner.

The free tickets aim to improve teacher recruitment and retention while simplifying commutes and facilitating school outings. "This is a sign of appreciation for the daily work of Vienna's teachers," stressed Mayor Ludwig, highlighting the need to fill many teaching positions in the coming years.

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Parents and students will also benefit. School trips will now enjoy free public transport, promoting climate-friendly travel and a smoother transition to a more sustainable city. Medits-Steiner believes the free tickets make preparing for lessons and organising outings "enormously easier."

READ ALSO: The downsides of Vienna you should be aware of before moving there

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AFP: ChatGPT faces Austria complaint for 'uncorrectable errors'

A Vienna-based privacy campaign group said Monday it would file a complaint against ChatGPT in Austria. The group claims the "hallucinating" flagship AI tool invents wrong answers, which its creator, OpenAI, cannot correct.

NOYB ("None of Your Business") said there was no way to guarantee the programme provided accurate information. "ChatGPT keeps hallucinating -- and not even OpenAI can stop it," the group said in a statement.

The group said the company has openly acknowledged it cannot correct inaccurate information produced by its generative AI tool and has failed to explain where the data comes from and what ChatGPT stores about individuals.

NOYB argued that such errors are unacceptable for information about individuals because EU law stipulates that personal data must be accurate.

"If a system cannot produce accurate and transparent results, it cannot be used to generate data about individuals," said Maartje de Graaf, data-protection lawyer at NOYB. "The technology has to follow the legal requirements, not the other way around."

ChatGPT "repeatedly provided incorrect information" about the birth date of NOYB founder Max Schrems "instead of telling users that it doesn't have the necessary data", said the group.

OpenAI refused Schrems's request to rectify or erase the data despite it being incorrect, saying it was impossible, NOYB added.

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NOYB also said it "failed to adequately respond" to his request to access his personal data, again in violation of EU law, and the firm "seems not even to pretend that it can comply."

READ ALSO: Five reasons not to trust ChatGPT about Austrian politics

Four injured in an altercation at Stephansplatz underground station

A 22-year-old man was injured with a Stanley knife in Stephansplatz underground station after intervening to protect a 63-year-old woman from an attacker.

The young man reportedly stopped the unknown assailant from harming the woman. While fleeing, he collided with a 35-year-old father pushing a pram, causing them both to fall and lightly injuring the father and baby.

Emergency services treated everyone at the scene, and the baby and the woman were taken to the hospital for further evaluation.

The attacker fled before police arrived. A search is underway to apprehend the suspect. Police are investigating the motive and any connection between those involved.

If you have any questions about life in Austria, ideas for articles, or news tips for The Local, you can contact us at [email protected] or leave a comment below.

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