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Noyb urges DPAs to stop Meta from using personal data for AI technology

Over the past few days, Meta has informed millions of Europeans that its privacy policy is changing once again so the company can use personal posts, private messages and online tracking data to train an undefined AI technology.

Instead of asking users for their consent, Meta argues it has a legitimate interest for its massive data collection plan, ignoring people’s fundamental rights to data protection and privacy. Therefore, the Austrian privacy institution Noyb has filed formal complaints in eleven European countries.

“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’. This is clearly the opposite of GDPR compliance,” says Noyb chairman Max Schrems.

He claims Meta is rather vague and doesn’t explain what the data is going to be used for. The parent company of Facebook and Instagram also says that user data can be made available to any third-party, and collect additional information from any third-party.

According to Schrems, Meta is using ‘legitimate interest’ as a legal basis to justify an even broader and more aggressive use of people’s personal data.

“The European Court of Justice has already made it clear that Meta has no ‘legitimate interest’ to override users’ right to data protection when it comes to advertising. 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,” he emphasizes.

‘Meta makes users beg to be excluded’

Meta offers users a way out. If they don’t like the idea of using their data to train some unknown AI technology, they can fill out an objection form. However, Meta makes it extremely complicated to object.

Schrems: “Shifting the responsibility to the user is completely absurd. The law requires Meta to get opt-in consent, not to provide a hidden and misleading opt-out form. If Meta wants to use your data, they have to ask for your permission. Instead, they make users beg to be excluded.”

Because Meta’s processing of user data for an undisclosed AI technology is set to take effect on June 26, Noyb has requested an emergency procedure in eleven European countries to put a stop to Meta’s plan. Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Spain received such a request.

The data protection agencies (DPAs) in the aforementioned countries will have to decide whether they are going to launch an emergency procedure or to deal with the complaints in a normal procedure. An emergency procedure could lead to a rapid interim ban.

Datatilsynet, the Norwegian DPA, thinks it’s ‘doubtful’ that Meta’s approach is legal. “In our view, the most natural thing would have been to ask users for consent before their posts and photos are used in this way,” the DPA says in a blog post.

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