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EU Continues To Block Meta’s AI Chatbot Despite Oz Permitting It

Meta AI (Image: Sourced from Meta Newsroom)

Several months after countries including Australia, the US and Canada permitted the roll out of Meta AI chatbot in their respective markets, the EU regulators are taking a much tougher stance.

At the start of last week, Facebook parent company Meta announced that it would start training its LLM, called Llama, using public posts generated by European users.

By the end of the week though, it backtracked and updated that statement to say those plans have been delayed indefinitely.

The reason it cited was that the Irish Data Protection Commission had asked it to delay its plans.

This is a step backwards for European innovation, competition in AI development and further delays bringing the benefits of AI to people in Europe,” said Meta in a blog post. “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.”

A Meta spokesperson confirmed the company still plans to bring these products to Europe, but declined to share a timeline for when that will happen, reported Bloomberg.

Meta AI chatbot

Meta also revealed in the same blog post that it was receiving a degree of pushback from other market regulators too, including the UK. It said that it was asked to address specific requests it had received from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK regulator, ahead of starting the training.

At the end of 2023, Facebook had 308 million daily active users in Europe.

Meta has been moving swiftly to develop its AI tools to keep pace with the development of its peers including Alphabet’s Google, Microsoft and OpenAI.

The company debuted its latest LLM, Llama 3, in April, and already offers its Meta AI assistant to users of its apps in the US.

Large language models are the technology that underpins types of generative artificial intelligence, including chatbots.

Meta AI is included automatically in search and messaging features as well as feeds of Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram in some countries, including Australia.

It accesses real-time information from across the web without having to switch between apps. In the search bar, you can enter prompts to ask questions, generate images or start a conversation with Meta AI.

The chatbot became available in Australia on April 19. The country’s eSafety Commissioner said in a post on its website, “It is difficult to opt out of sharing your data with Meta AI and your posts and interactions on apps that incorporate Meta AI may be used to train its AI models.” Despite the warning by the eSafety commissioner which recently came out on the losing side of a battle with X, Meta’s latest AI tool continues to be used in Australia.

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