Meta Plan To Train AI With EU, UK User Data Spurs Complaints

Image credit: Meta

European privacy group files GDPR complaints over Meta plan to use public user data from Facebook, Instagram to train AI systems

A plan by Facebook parent Meta Platforms to utilise UK and EU user data to train its AI products without asking for consent has met with a challenge from privacy activists, who say it goes against data protection regulations and legal precedents.

Meta has begun informing UK and European Union users of upcoming changes to its privacy policies, taking effect on 26 June, which it says will allow it to use their public posts and tracking data to “develop and improve” AI technology that can share information with third parties.

The data includes posts, images, image captions, comments and Stories that users over the age of 18 have shared with a public audience on Facebook and Instagram, and excludes private messages.

A message sent to Facebook users says Meta may process information about people who do not use its products and services or have an account if they appear in an image or are mentioned in posts or captions shared by a user.

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GDPR complaints

European privacy group Noyb (None Of Your Business) said it has filed complaints with 11 data protection regulators in Europe, asking them to take immediate action to stop the plan.

Noyb has challenged Meta and other tech companies in the past over their privacy practices.

The EU’s GDPR privacy laws, which also apply in the UK, enable regulators to fine a company up to 4 percent of its annual global turnover for serious violations.

Meta said it is “confident” its approach complies with EU and UK law and is consistent with the way other technology companies, including Google and OpenAI, are developing their AI products in Europe.

The company has previously cited a legitimate interest for using the data as its legal basis for the change to its privacy policy.

Noyb co-founder Max Schrems said the EU’s top court, the European Court of Justice (CJEU), has already ruled that Meta does not have a “legitimate interest” enabling it to override users’ right to data protection where it comes to advertising.

AI training

“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 said.

He said the company’s scheme for allowing users to opt out is complicated and forces users to explain how they would be affected by the processing of their data.

“The law requires Meta to get opt-in consent, not to provide a hidden and misleading opt-out form,” Schrems said.

“If Meta wants to use your data, they have to ask for your permission. Instead, they made users beg to be excluded.”