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EU Urged to Halt Meta’s Use of Personal Data for AI Models

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Meta’s plan to utilize personal data for training its artificial intelligence (AI) models without user consent has faced strong opposition.

On Thursday, advocacy group NOYB called on European privacy regulators to intervene and prevent such usage.

NOYB (None of Your Business) has urged national privacy authorities to take immediate action, highlighting recent amendments to Meta’s privacy policy effective June 26. These changes would permit the use of personal posts, private images, and online tracking data accumulated over years for the AI technology of the Facebook owner.

The advocacy group has filed 11 complaints against Meta, urging data protection agencies in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Spain to initiate urgent procedures in light of the imminent policy changes.

In response, Meta dismissed NOYB’s accusations, citing a May 22 blog post where it asserted that its AI training uses publicly available and licensed data, as well as information users have shared publicly on its platforms.

However, a notification sent to Facebook users indicated that Meta might process data related to individuals who neither use its products nor hold an account, should they appear in images or be mentioned in posts or captions shared by users.

A Meta spokesperson stated, “We are confident that our approach complies with privacy laws and aligns with how other tech companies, including Google and OpenAI, are developing and enhancing their AI experiences in Europe.”

NOYB has a history of filing complaints against Meta and other major tech firms for alleged violations of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which can impose fines up to 4% of a company’s global turnover for non-compliance.

Meta has previously justified its use of user data for training and developing its generative AI models and other AI tools, citing legitimate interest. These tools may be shared with third parties.

Max Schrems, founder of NOYB, referenced a 2021 ruling by Europe’s top court in his statement, asserting that the European Court of Justice (CJEU) had clearly stated that Meta has no ‘legitimate interest’ to override users’ data protection rights in advertising contexts.

“Yet the company is trying to use the same arguments for the training of undefined ‘AI technology’. It seems that Meta is once again blatantly ignoring the judgements of the CJEU,” Schrems stated, criticizing the complexity of opting out.

“Shifting responsibility to the user is completely absurd. The law requires Meta to get opt-in consent, not to provide a hidden and misleading opt-out form,” Schrems added. “If Meta wants to use your data, they have to ask for your permission. Instead, they made users beg to be excluded.”

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