Clearview AI agrees to limit database sales

Facial recognition software maker Clearview AI has settled a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and will limit access to its facial database in the United States to government agencies rather than a myriad of American companies, The New York Times reported Monday, May 9. ).

The case being settled is a rebuke to the company’s reported privacy breaches.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit in May 2020 for groups representing victims of domestic violence, undocumented immigrants and sex workers, accusing Clearview of violating a state law prohibiting private entities from use the identity of citizens without their consent.

The settlement means the company will not be able to sell its database of around 20 billion facial photos to private companies and individuals. However, he will be allowed to sell them to federal and state agencies.

The report says Clearview will have access to an exception and be able to provide its database to US banks and financial institutions due to part of the law in Illinois where the case was filed. However, Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That said there were no plans to provide the database to anyone other than the government.

The startup had built its software by scraping photos from the web and popular social media sites, then selling them to local police and government agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The technology had been deemed illegal in various places like Canada, Australia and parts of Europe. Clearview also faces a $22.6 million fine in Britain and a €20 million fine from Italy’s data protection agency.

PYMNTS wrote that earlier this year, Ton-That said his goal for 2022 was to “sign deals with the US government” and expand his team by a third.

Read more: Facial recognition company Clearview AI seeks government deals despite regulatory issues

He also said Pennsylvania-based computational physicist Terence Liu was behind some of Clearview’s algorithms – the first time a member of the company’s technical team had come to light.

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