Privacy organizations on Thursday complained to regulators in five European countries about the practices of Clearview AI, a company that has built a powerful facial recognition database using images “pulled” from the web.
Clearview’s use of images – including those from social media accounts – to offer biometrics services to private businesses and law enforcement agencies “goes far beyond what we might expect in as online users, ”said Ioannis Kouvakas, Legal Officer at Privacy International. A declaration.
While Clearview touts its technology’s ability to help law enforcement, critics say facial recognition is subject to abuse and could eventually eliminate anonymity in public spaces – highlighting cases like the system. China’s massive public surveillance.
Facial recognition has also come under attack for failing to distinguish faces and women from non-whites, as well as for identifying white male images, which could lead to false positives.
Along with three other digital rights organizations, PI has filed complaints with data regulators in France, Austria, Italy, Greece and Great Britain.
“We expect them to join forces to decide that Clearview’s practices have no place in Europe, which would have significant ramifications for the company’s operations around the world,” PI said.
In February, Canada’s Privacy Commissioner concluded that the company’s activity “is mass surveillance and illegal” under the country’s privacy laws .
And UK and Australian privacy watchdogs launched a joint investigation last year.
“Just because something is ‘online’ doesn’t mean it’s a game just to be appropriated by others as they wish – neither morally nor legally,” said Alan Dahi, lawyer specializing in data protection within the Austrian privacy group Noyb.
Clearview went public in a January 2020 New York Times report that explained how he was already working with law enforcement, including the US FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.
On its website, it has the “largest known database of over 3 billion facial images from public-only web sources, including news media, photo websites, public social media and many other open sources ”.
Founder Hoan Ton-That admitted to the NYT at the time that Clearview was violating the terms of service of Facebook and other social media sites by collecting user photos.
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (Google) and LinkedIn (Microsoft) have all protested Clearview’s practices.
And last year, tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon suspended sales of facial recognition software to law enforcement when confronted with the 2020 Black Lives Matter movement.
Amazon last week extended the initial moratorium by one year “until further notice.”
But “facial recognition tools are widely available” even outside of large tech companies, according to journalist Nicolas Kayser-Bril, who complied with a technology report for advocacy group AlgorithmWatch last year which found at least 10 European police forces using it.
© 2021 AFP