Meta facing EU call to ban the use of personal data for AI models

Currently, an ongoing controversy erupted when Meta updated the policy by allowing the firm to harness users’ personal data to train its AI models without seeking their permission. None of Your Business (NOYB) an advocacy group has called on the privacy regulators in Europe to act on this new policy.

Details of the Controversy

Facebook owner Meta has revealed updates regarding its privacy policies to go into effect on June 26, 2024. These changes will allow Meta to collect years of personal posts, private images, and online tracking data from its platforms to improve and fine-tune its AI technology. This has caused a lot of controversy since users are concerned with their data being used without their knowledge and permission.

Key Points:

  • Data Usage: Meta plans to train its AI with publicly available information from the internet, licensed data, and content openly shared by users on its platforms.
  • User Notification: Some of these changes are being communicated to European users in an opt-out basis, but the process of opting out has been deemed very complicated.
  • Inclusion of Non-Users: It is also possible that Meta collects other information of non-users if they are depicted in the pictures shared by its users.

NOYB’s Response

The organisation has lodged a total of 11 complaints across several European countries, including Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Spain. The group has urged the data protection authorities to open a procedure that will prevent Meta from implementing the new policy before the end of the legal process.

Max Schrems, the founder of NOYB, emphasized that the European Court of Justice (CJEU) had previously ruled against similar practices by Meta. He argues that Meta’s reliance on "legitimate interest" as a basis for this data usage does not respect EU data protection laws. Schrems criticized the opt-out process as misleading and unfair, stating that it shifts the responsibility of data protection onto users.

Statements from NOYB:

Max Schrems: "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."

Meta’s Defense

Meta has come out to support their changes stating that their use of data is both legal per the laws on data privacy, as well as is typical within the digital industry. Meta’s representative emphasized that in terms of AI, it works the same way that other prominent tech giants like Google or OpenAI do – they enhance their AI models.

Official Statement: We firmly believe the approach is fully legal, and we believe that our approach is aligned with the development and improvement of AI experiences other tech companies have been doing in Europe.

Legal and Ethical Concerns

In the case of Meta, which now intends to use personal data for training AI, there are several ethical and legal concerns that one can consider, including those of user consent to usage of personal data as well as data privacy. The GDPR is also is clear on the fact that the companied must have a lawful reason for processing the personal data. It’s for this reason that NOYB is of the opinion that Meta’s justification of using “legitimate interest” is insufficient and unlawful with regard to users.

Potential Consequences: Potential consequences of such an outcome for Meta include fines that can amount up to 4% of the company’s total annual revenue if GDPR violations are considered severe.


This discussion on Meta and its utilization of personal data for training AI underlines the tension between applying innovation and protecting individual data. In light of such practices being investigated by the regulatory agencies and advocacy groups, the outcome that is expected to be seen will greatly influence future treatment of personal data by the tech companies.