Meta Faces EU Backlash Over AI Data Consent

On June 5, Meta Platforms faced 11 complaints about its planned modifications concerning the use of personal data for training its artificial intelligence (AI) models without user consent. These alterations could potentially infringe upon European Union privacy laws. The privacy advocacy organization None of Your Business (NYOB) has urged national privacy regulators to urgently intervene and halt such practices.

The grievances were lodged in multiple countries, including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Spain. The core issue is the recent updates to Meta’s privacy policies, which take effect on June 26. These changes would enable the company to utilize years of users’ personal posts, private photos, and tracking data for its AI technologies.

Given the impending updates, NYOB has appealed to data protection authorities in the mentioned nations to conduct an immediate investigation. According to NYOB, Meta’s updated privacy policy justifies the use of users’ data for developing its generative AI models and other tools by claiming a “legitimate interest.” This shift affects millions of European users, making it impossible for them to withdraw their data once it has been incorporated into the system.

NYOB has a history of filing multiple complaints against Meta and other major tech companies for alleged violations of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Breaching this regulation can result in fines amounting to 4% of a company’s global annual revenue. This background sets the stage for NYOB’s current actions, aiming to ensure the protection of user data in accordance with EU law.

Max Schrems, the founder of NYOB, highlighted in a statement that the European Court of Justice (CJEU) had ruled on a similar issue in 2021. According to him, this ruling should guide the current situation regarding Meta’s intended data usage. Schrems stated, “The European Court of Justice (CJEU) has already made it clear that Meta has no ‘legitimate interest’ to override users’ right to data protection when it comes to advertising… It seems that Meta is once again blatantly ignoring the judgments of the CJEU.”

Schrems criticized the idea of making users solely responsible for protecting their privacy. He asserted that the law requires Meta to get explicit consent from users rather than offering a confusing opt-out mechanism. According to Schrems, Meta should request direct permission from users if it wishes to utilize their data, rather than obliging users to actively seek exclusion from such usage.

In a similar vein, Google found itself sued in July 2023 on comparable grounds. The lawsuit claimed that Google’s updated privacy policy allowed it to misuse vast amounts of data, including copyrighted material, for training its AI models. This case serves as a cautionary tale and highlights growing concerns about how tech giants handle personal data in their quest to advance AI technologies.

These cases underline the broader issue of how technology companies balance the development of cutting-edge AI technologies with the need to protect user privacy. As regulators and advocacy groups like NYOB continue to challenge the practices of major corporations, the outcome of these legal battles could set significant precedents for data privacy and AI model training.

While Meta argues that its policy complies with legal standards by asserting legitimate interest, critics argue that user consent should not be bypassed under any circumstances. The debate brings to light a critical tension between technological innovation and ethical data practices, one that is bound to shape the future regulatory landscape in the EU and beyond.

Adelind Miranda

Adelind Miranda

24 thoughts on “Meta Faces EU Backlash Over AI Data Consent

  1. Training AI models with our private photos and posts without consent? Meta is completely overreaching and must be held accountable.

  2. A big shoutout to NYOB for their tireless efforts. User consent should never be negotiable!

  3. Exploiting millions of users’ data without consent is a huge violation. Meta needs to reconsider its approach before they face even bigger legal consequences.

  4. Fantastic job, NYOB! EU regulations exist for a reason. Let’s enforce them!

  5. Kudos to NYOB for acting on behalf of millions of users. This battle for data protection is essential!

  6. NYOB deserves all the praise for tackling these complex issues head-on. Keep fighting the good fight!

  7. What’s next, Meta? Rummaging through our private messages for AI training? Enough is enough. Respect our privacy!

  8. Such an important issue! Props to NYOB for keeping the spotlight on data privacy.

  9. I’m relieved to see NYOB stepping up and addressing these concerns. Users’ privacy should be a top priority!

  10. NYOB is crucial in holding big tech accountable. Personal data is not a free resource!

  11. How is this even legal? Meta should definitely need explicit consent to use personal data. This opt-out mechanism is just confusing and unfair.

  12. Happy to see action being taken on such a significant issue. Thank you, NYOB, for your vigilance!

  13. A necessary intervention by NYOB. Our data deserves more respect, and this is the right step!

  14. User data should be off-limits for unauthorized uses. Grateful to NYOB for taking a stand!

  15. Seems like Meta is ignoring previous court rulings. They can’t just reframe the invasion of our privacy as legitimate interest. This needs urgent intervention!

  16. Way to go, NYOB! User consent should never be sidestepped. This is crucial for our privacy rights.

  17. Kudos to NYOB for holding Meta accountable! This is a big win for privacy advocates everywhere.

  18. This is a huge step forward for data privacy. Thank you, NYOB, for taking action.

  19. Metas disregard for user consent and privacy laws is infuriating. NYOBs fight is crucial to protect our rights!

  20. Our data shouldn’t be used without explicit consent. Kudos to NYOB for standing up to Meta!

  21. So grateful for NYOB’s efforts to keep our data safe. Keep up the fight against unauthorized data use!

  22. It’s appalling to see Meta once again in hot water for privacy violations. When will they learn to respect our rights?

  23. It’s about time someone took a stand against these privacy infringements. Go NYOB!

  24. Max Schrems is a true champion for digital rights. So glad NYOB is on this case!

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