AI training with user data: consumer advice center warns of Meta

Active resistance needed

June 13, 2024, 08:04 | Source: dpa / Editing: Diana Künstler

If the Meta Group gets its way, users of Facebook, Instagram and Threads will have to make their content available for training AI models. Consumer advocates want to prevent this.

With a warning against the Facebook group Meta, the consumer advice center in North Rhine-Westphalia wants to prevent the internet company from using the unsolicited content of its users to train its AI models. The European subsidiary Meta Platforms Ireland Ltd. was asked to file a declaration of injunction.

Meta has been writing to Facebook, Instagram and Threads users en masse in recent days to inform them about the adjustment of its data protection declaration. “We are updating our privacy policy as we expand AI at Meta,” the email reads. The text also informs users of their right to object.

The consumer advocates from North Rhine-Westphalia are annoyed by the fact that meta-customers have to actively object if they disagree with the AI ​​training based on their posts. “The objection procedure is very cumbersome and not very user-friendly.” They also criticize the fact that Facebook has recently started performing a more extensive analysis of the private photo library as standard: users of Facebook apps now received suggestions about which photos or videos from their personal storage they could share that they could use on the platform. From the perspective of the NRW consumer advice center, both changes – the AI ​​training and the photo analysis – violate the data protection rights of the users.

“Meta makes it too easy here”

Meta believes that his actions are not against the European data protection-General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The email to users states: “In order to provide you with these user experiences, we will rely on the legal basis of legitimate interest in the future when we use your information to further develop and improve AI at Meta.”

Wolfgang Schuldzinski, Consumer Centre for North Rhine-Westphalia
Wolfgang Schuldzinski, board member of the Consumer Centre North Rhine-Westphalia

Consumer advocates may disagree with this interpretation of data protection law. “Meta makes it too easy for itself,” explains Wolfgang Schuldzinski, board member of the NRW Consumer Advice Center. The use of private data for training artificial intelligence may not take place without the consent of the users. “Because the personal data used can be very worthy of protection.” In the past, users have even done that
cannot anticipate that the information they post could be used to train AI in the future.

Following the warning from the North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Advice Centre, the group has until 19 June 2024 to file a declaration of charges. If Meta lets the deadline pass unnoticed, consumer advocates will have the opportunity to take legal action.

Consumer Advice Center on the possibilities of objection:

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