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EU Policy. Meta says it follows Google, OpenAI in training AI with data

The Facebook application on a phone.
The Facebook application on a phone. Copyright Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo
Copyright Wilfredo Lee/AP Photo
By Cynthia Kroet
Published on
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The tech giant faces complaints over use of personal data for its AI models.

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Facebook and Instagram owner Meta is following the example set by Google and OpenAI in using data from its European users to train artificial intelligence systems, it said in a blogpost published yesterday (10 June).

Meta has come under fire from Austrian privacy organisation NOYB which last week filed complaints with privacy watchdogs in eleven EU member states after the tech giant updated its privacy policy asking to take all public and non-public user data – with the exception of chats between individuals and content from accounts of those aged under 18 years – and use it to train its AI technology such as Llama and the Meta AI assistant.

Meta said in its blog that to “properly serve our European communities, the models that power AI at Meta need to be trained on relevant information that reflects the diverse languages, geography and cultural references of the people in Europe who use them.” 

It added that it’s not the first company to do this. “We are following the example set by others, including Google and OpenAI, both of which have already used data from European users to train AI. Our approach is more transparent and offers easier controls than many of our industry counterparts already training their models on similar publicly available information,” the statement added.

The company sent over two billion in-app notifications and emails to users in Europe explaining the practices and containing a link to an objection form.

Data protection concerns

The US Big Tech company said that it is in talks with its lead privacy regulator in Europe, the Irish Data Protection Commission about building the models responsibly.

“We have incorporated their feedback to date to ensure that the way we train AI at Meta complies with EU privacy laws,” the company said.

In its complaint, NOYB claimed last week that Meta's practices are not compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). "'AI technology' is an extremely broad term. Much like 'using your data in databases', it has no real legal limit,” said Max Schrems, lawyer and NOYB founder. 

Meta will rely on a legal basis of ‘Legitimate Interests’ to comply with the GDPR. The Irish Data Protection Commission told Euronews Next last week that “Meta delayed the launch following a number [of] enquiries from the DPC which have been addressed”. Meta gave users four weeks' notice ahead of the initial training, the DPC said.

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