Meta Halts EU AI Model Rollout Amid Privacy Concerns, Regulatory Pressure

By Madz Dizon

Jun 14, 2024 11:20 PM EDT


Meta Platforms has postponed the European launch of its AI models after the Irish privacy regulator advised against using data from Facebook and Instagram users.
This picture taken on April 27, 2023 in Toulouse, southwestern France, shows a screen displaying the Meta logo and the European flag. - European commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton unveiled a list of 19 online platforms, including Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, as having user numbers so big they will come under stricter regulatory rules for content. The list which also includes services from Amazon, Google, Meta, Instagram and Microsoft puts them in a category under a new EU law, known as the Digital Services Act (DSA), imposing measures from August such as annual audits and a duty to effectively counter disinformation and hate content.
(Photo : LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images)

Meta has announced a temporary halt to its plans of training its AI systems with user data from the European Union and UK.

Meta Delays AI Training Plan Amid EU Privacy Concerns

Meta's decision to make this move comes as a response to the concerns raised by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), which acts as the leading regulator for Meta in the EU. 

According to TechCrunch, DPC is representing various data protection authorities throughout the bloc. The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) also asked Meta to temporarily halt its plans until it could address the concerns it had raised.

Last month, Meta started informing users about an upcoming modification to its privacy policy.  This change will grant Meta the ability to utilize public content from Facebook and Instagram to train its AI. 

The content includes comments, interactions with companies, status updates, photos, and their captions. The company stated that it made this decision in order to better represent the various languages, geography, and cultural references of the people in Europe.

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EU Activist Group Challenges Meta's GDPR Changes

The implementation of these changes is scheduled for June 26, just 12 days away. However, the plans prompted the non-profit privacy activist organization NOYB ("none of your business") to file 11 complaints with EU countries, claiming that Meta is violating different aspects of GDPR.

According to sources, EU regulators are expected to release preliminary findings resembling antitrust charges before the summer break in August.  Apple is said to be the first company to face these charges, followed by Meta.

Companies have the opportunity to provide solutions to address the concerns outlined in the findings before a final decision is made, Reuters reported.  This decision is expected to be reached before EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager concludes her term in November. 

Possible consequences for violations could include fines of up to 10% of a company's global annual turnover. The EU investigation is focused on Apple's steering rules, which regulators claim restrict app developers from informing users about offers outside of the App Store without any cost, as well as the new fees imposed on app developers.

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