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Meta is putting plans for AI technology in the EU on hold

Meta was planning to use personal posts, private messages and online tracking data to train an undefined AI Technology. Because of the public outrage it caused, the Menlo Park-based tech company decided to postpone its plan in the EU.

Earlier this month, Meta told users it was going to change its privacy policy in order to train an ‘AI technology’, without providing any details. The company also said it was going to make user data available to any third-party.

Meta argued it had a ‘legitimate interest’ in doing so, which was immediately questioned by privacy experts. According to Noyb chairman Max Schrems, Meta was using this legal basis to justify an even broader and more aggressive use of people's personal data.

To put a stop to Meta's plans, the Austrian privacy organization filed a complaint in eleven EU member states.

DPAs are happy Meta is temporarily pausing its AI plans

Meta’s intention to use personal data for AI training purposes, caused a lot of commotion in the Facebook and Instagram community. That’s why the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), the lead regulator in the matter, asked Meta to postpone its plans.

In a statement, Meta says it consents with the DPC’s request. The company also warns this means “a step backwards for European innovation”. The company emphasizes it wants to bring Meta AI to Europe. “But, put simply, without including local information we’d only be able to offer people a second-rate experience.”

The DPC says it’s glad Meta decided to halt its AI plans in Europe. The Irish data protection authority (DPA) promises to continue negotiations with the American tech company.

Stephen Almond, Executive Director Regulatory Risk at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the British DPA, is also content with Meta’s decision to pause their AI plans. “In order to get the most out of generative AI and the opportunities it brings, it is crucial that the public can trust that their privacy rights will be respected from the outset,” he says in a statement.

Schrems is pleased with Meta’s response and is convinced that pressure from Noyb and local DPAs contributed to the company’s decision to temporarily stop training Meta AI with user data. The chairman promises to monitor the latest developments closely.

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