Clearview AI will stop selling its facial recognition tools to businesses

The company, which specializes in facial recognition, is the subject of several legal proceedings. Now, she can no longer share biometric data without permission.

Clearview AI, a start-up specializing in controversial facial recognition technologies, has agreed to no longer sell its biometric databases to companies in the United States. A major victory for the civil rights association ACLU.

ACLU and other organizations had filed a lawsuit against Clearview AI two years ago for violating an Illinois biometric data privacy law.

This text prohibits the sharing of face, iris or fingerprint recognition data, for example, without the permission of the persons concerned.

Protection against abuse

The agreement announced Monday, May 9, which must be approved by the court, stipulates that Clearview AI can no longer make its face database accessible to most private entities in the United States. She can continue to cooperate with the authorities, except in Illinois for five years.

“Clearview can no longer treat people’s unique biometric identifiers as a source of unrestricted profit,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, an ACLU deputy director.

He hopes that other potentially affected companies will react accordingly. “This agreement shows that strong privacy laws can provide real protections against abuse,” he added. Clearview AI, for its part, said it was satisfied to be able to turn the page.

“This agreement is a huge victory for Clearview AI. It does not change its current business model,” assured lawyer Lee Wolosky, on behalf of the company, contacted by AFP.

It will “continue to expand its commercial offer in accordance with the law”, he continued. “And she’s going to pay a small amount to cover publicity and costs, which is a lot less money than a trial would have cost.”

100 billion faces

“Clearview did not take into account that biometric information can be used to endanger and threaten the lives of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Linda Xóchitl Tortolero, president of Acción, a Chicago-based charity. who hailed a “huge victory” for Illinois’ most vulnerable people.

Clearview AI, funded in particular by one of Facebook’s first investors, Peter Thiel, has a database of more than 10 billion faces, collected online, which feed its identification software.

And according to the washington postthe Californian start-up has told its investors that it is on track to have more than 100 billion photos in its database by next year.

Several proceedings are underway against the company in European countries. The Italian Personal Data Protection Authority fined him 20 million euros last March for having introduced “biometric surveillance of people on Italian territory”.

In its press release, the Authority further specified that it had “ordered the company to erase the data relating to persons located in Italy”.

Victoria Beurnez with AFP

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