Meta delays launch of AI software in Europe after complaints

US social media giant Meta, the company behind Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, is delaying the launch of its new artificial intelligence (AI) programme in the EU. The company made the announcement in a blog post on Friday.

Meta's decision follows a number of complaints against its AI plans in Europe. The company wants to use its users' data on Facebook and Instagram to feed its AI models, which would allow users to generate text and images, for example, or ask them questions.

None of your business

Last week, Austrian NGO NOYB ("none of your business") filed a complaint against those plans in 11 European countries, including Belgium. NOYB denounces that Meta's new privacy policy does not work with explicit consent for the use of personal data ("opt-in"), but instead with a "misleading and complicated" way to object ("opt-out").

“Meta is basically saying that it can use any data from any source for any purpose and make it available to anyone in the world, as long as it’s done via AI technology,” said NOYB founder Max Schrems. “This is clearly the opposite of GDPR compliance.”

“This is clearly the opposite of GDPR compliance”

NOYB has already filed several complaints against Meta and other Big Tech companies in the past, over alleged breaches of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Irish watchdog

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) of Ireland, where Meta has its European headquarters, had asked Meta to postpone the use of European data in its AI models for the time being, which prompted the company to delay the launch.

Without "local information", the launch of the new AI services would amount to a "second-rate experience", Meta said in a blogpost. The company also argues that Google and OpenAI have “already used data from Europeans to train AI”.

Meta calls it "a step backwards for European innovation and competition in AI development". The social media company also insists that its approach is "compliant with European laws and regulations" and that it is more transparent than its competitors.

In a brief response, the DPC said it welcomed the decision, adding that the decision came after intensive engagement between Meta and the watchdog.



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