Meta pauses AI plans in Europe after privacy complaints

Agence France-Presse
Meta pauses AI plans in Europe after privacy complaints
This file illustration photo taken in Toulouse, southwestern France, shows a smartphone and a computer screen displaying the logos of the social network Facebook and its parent company Meta.

VIENNA, Austria — Meta has paused plans to use personal data to train its artificial intelligence technology in Europe, Ireland's regulator said Friday, after the social media giant was hit with privacy complaints.

Last week, a Vienna-based privacy campaign group filed complaints in 11 European countries against Meta, saying the global tech giant's planned privacy policy change would allow "unlawful" use of personal data to train an "undefined" type of current and future AI technology.

The complaints brought by the European Center for Digital Rights -- also known as Noyb ("None of Your Business") -- followed a recent announcement by Meta in which it informed its European users of a change in its privacy policy from June 26.

The group said it found out that Meta planned to use all public and non-public user data that it has collected since 2007 for the AI technology.

Through the complaints, the group asked data protection authorities in the 11 European countries to stop Meta's new privacy policy before it enters into force in late June and fully investigate it.

In a statement on Friday, the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) said it "welcomes the decision by Meta to pause its plans to train its large language model using public content shared by adults on Facebook and Instagram across the EU/EEA".

"This decision followed intensive engagement between the DPC and Meta," the DPC said, adding that it would continue to engage with Meta on this issue together with its fellow EU data protection authorities.

"We welcome this development, but will monitor this closely. So far there is no official change of the Meta privacy policy, which would make this commitment legally binding," Noyb founder Max Schrems said in a statement.

"The cases we filed are ongoing and will need a determination," he added.

Noyb has launched several legal cases against technology giants, often prompting action from regulatory authorities.

The group began working in 2018 with the advent of the EU's landmark General Data Protection Regulation.

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