Wednesday October 05, 2022

Clearview AI agrees that facial recognition will not be sold to private companies permanently

Clearview AI, a facial recognition company, has agreed to ban all private companies from using its service as part of a court settlement. The settlement was filed today in Illinois. It would resolve a 2020 American Civil Liberties Union suit that claimed Clearview AI had built its business around facial recognition data obtained without user consent. Clearview has taken the necessary steps to settle the case and is now protected from any future ACLU lawsuits under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act. Clearview also agrees to a nationwide injunction that will prevent Clearview from selling (or distributing) a large database of face photos, many of which were originally sourced from social media sites like Facebook. Clearview is prohibited from dealing with any private business or individual nationwide, even government employees who aren’t acting for their employers. It can’t also deal with any Illinois state agency or local government agency for five year. It must also attempt to remove any Illinois residents’ photographs. Residents who wish to block searches using their faces or prevent any collection of their photos must have an opt-out program.
Clearview can still work alongside federal agencies and local police department as long as they aren’t located in Illinois.
The ACLU called the settlement a victory. Clearview must comply with Illinois’s draconian biometric privacy law. This settlement shows that strong privacy laws can provide real protections from abuse,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project deputy director. Clearview cannot treat the unique biometric identifiers of individuals as an unrestricted source for profit. Other companies should take note and other states should follow Illinois’ lead by enacting strong biometric privacy legislations.
Illinois is the only state to have enacted a biometric privacy bill. This makes Illinois a hotbed for activists working to combat privacy-eroding facial recognition software. Meta, formerly Facebook agreed to $650 million in a class action BIPA suit last.
Clearview had already announced in 2020 that it would cease working with private companies. This included a list that once included Bank of America and Macy’s. Clearview has shifted its focus to working with thousands of local law enforcement agencies and federal agencies, such as the Justice Department. These agencies have used it for unusual events like the January 6th 2021 Capitol riot.
Clearview will no longer grant free trial access to individual officers without the knowledge of departments, but these contracts are still permitted outside Illinois. Clearview’s facial recognition database has been restricted by lawmakers in some states and localities, which have opposed the practice.

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