Meta Halts Launch Of AI Models In Europe Due To Irish Privacy Regulator’s Directive

Meta Halts Launch Of AI Models In Europe Due To Irish Privacy Regulator’s Directive

Meta Halts Launch Of AI Models In Europe Due To Irish Privacy Regulator’s Directive

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Meta Platforms has decided to postpone the launch of its Meta AI models in Europe following a directive from the Irish privacy regulator. The regulator instructed Meta to halt its plan to utilise data from Facebook and Instagram users, the US social media company announced on Friday. This decision was influenced by complaints and a request from the advocacy group NOYB, urging data protection authorities in several European countries—Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Spain—to take action against Meta.

The controversy centres around Meta’s intention to use personal data to train its artificial intelligence (AI) models without obtaining user consent, even though Meta claimed it would only use publicly available and licensed information. On Friday, Meta revealed that the Irish privacy watchdog had specifically asked the company to delay training its large language models (LLMs) using public content from Facebook and Instagram adult users.

Meta in a blogpost said, “We’re disappointed by the request from the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), our lead regulator, on behalf of the European DPAs … particularly since we incorporated regulatory feedback and the European DPAs have been informed since March.”

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The post added that the Irish request is a step backwards for European innovation and competition in AI development.

It read, “Put simply, without including local information we’d only be able to offer people a second-rate experience. This means we aren’t able to launch Meta AI in Europe at the moment.”

The Data Protection Commission (DPC) expressed appreciation for Meta’s decision to pause its plans, stating that the move followed extensive discussions with the regulator.

Meta mentioned that the postponement of its AI models’ launch would enable it to respond to requests from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the United Kingdom.

The ICO also welcomed Meta’s action, affirming that it would continue to oversee major developers of generative AI, including Meta, to assess the safeguards they have implemented and ensure the protection of information rights for users in the UK.

Max Schrems, the chair of NOYB, credited Meta’s temporary pause to the complaints the group lodged last week. He said, “So far there is no official change of the Meta privacy policy, which would make this commitment legally binding. The cases we filed are ongoing and will need a determination.”

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