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Meta Forced to Delay Plans of Using EU Users’ Data for AI Training

Krishi Chowdhary Journalist Author expertise
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  • Meta was planning to use EU users’ data, which is available publicly on Instagram and Facebook, to train its AI models.
  • This would have helped the company understand its language, culture, and local trends and offer a personalized experience to users from that region.
  • However, many European regulators have raised concerns against this process and asked Meta to hit the brakes on its plans until further review.

Meta To Delay Its Plans of Using EU Users’ Data For AI Training 

Meta AI was set to roll out a program where the company would use the data of its users from the European Union and the UK to train its AI models.

Users had been notified about this program and the changes were due to come into effect on June 26. However, this has now been forced to hit pause.

It started with an advocacy group called NOYB filing a complaint against Meta AI to authorities from Austria, France, Belgium, Greece, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Norway, and Spain.

Here are the objections it raised:

  • Instead of asking users explicit permission to use their data, Meta just added the “opt-out” option.
  • The notification was sent alongside regular Facebook notifications, such as those of birthdays and likes & comments. So, there’s a high chance that users might completely miss it. If they do indeed miss it, they won’t know that they can opt out of sharing their data.
  • Opting out itself wasn’t as simple. You had to fill out an objection form, explaining why you didn’t want your data processed, and then it was up to Meta to decide if it wanted to accept your “request”.
Even worse, Meta believed that its actions were completely legal and cited “legitimate interest” as a basis for it. But as Mark Zuckerberg and his team has now found out, that’s not how it works.

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), acting on behalf of all the other regulators, has asked Meta to delay its plans.

A similar objection has been raised by The U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as well, which asked Meta to hit brakes until it can satisfy their concerns.

Meta’s Decision & the Regulators’ Response to It

Although Meta has agreed to comply with the request of the regulators, it’s quite clearly unhappy with this move.

Meta said that delaying AI training would be a huge setback for the EU and would cause further delays in bringing the benefits of AI to Europe.

The company is even more upset over the fact that it had already discussed this project with the European DPAs in March and incorporated the feedback they gave.

Meta was truly being cautious this time.

  • It promised to only use publicly available information (such as posts and comments) and steer clear from private chats.
  • It also ensured that no data from users under 18 would be used in the process.

So, being asked to pause the project after all this time and after so many precautions doesn’t make any sense to Meta.

Meta planned to use this data to offer EU citizens a personalized experience. This data would have helped it understand their local language, culture, and trends in a better way. In its absence, EU users would only get a “second-rate experience”.

The DPC, on the other hand, is quite happy with Meta’s decision and said that it will continue to “engage” with the company until they find a mutually beneficial way out.

ICO executive director for regulatory risk, Stephen Almond, shared similar sentiments. He said that it’s great that Meta has addressed their concerns and is willing to pause the program until further review.

Stephen Almond also said these rules aren’t just for Meta. All major developers of generative AI will be subjected to similar types of monitoring.

He further added that while Gen AI can truly be transformative, it’s important that people can understand it and be assured that their privacy will be respected.

Max Schrems, chairman of NOYB, also welcomed this news but said the job isn’t done here. It will continue to track Meta’s activities.

“So far there is no official change in the Meta privacy policy, which would make this commitment legally binding. The cases we filed are ongoing and will need a determination.” – NOYB Chairman.

It remains to be seen how this whole situation will pan out and whether the parties will be able to reach a middle ground.

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Krishi Chowdhary Journalist

Krishi Chowdhary Journalist

Krishi is an eager Tech Journalist and content writer for both B2B and B2C, with a focus on making the process of purchasing software easier for businesses and enhancing their online presence and SEO.

Krishi has a special skill set in writing about technology news, creating educational content on customer relationship management (CRM) software, and recommending project management tools that can help small businesses increase their revenue.

Alongside his writing and blogging work, Krishi's other hobbies include studying the financial markets and cricket.

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