Clearview AI’s troubles continue to mount, with the company’s app being disabled on the App Store for violating Apple’s rules.
Buzzfeed News first noticed that Clearview was doing an end-run around Apple’s distribution rules, “encouraging those who want to use the software to download its app through a program reserved exclusively for developers.” Buzzfeed contacted Apple to inquire about the situation, prompting Apple to investigate. As a result of their investigation, Apple suspended Clearview’s developer account, preventing the app from functioning. Apple told Buzzfeed the developer program Clearview was using is only for distributing apps within a company, not the kind of widescale distribution Clearview was using it for.
In statement obtained by Buzzfeed, Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That said: “We are in contact with Apple and working on complying with their terms and conditions. The app can not be used without a valid Clearview account. A user can download the app, but not perform any searches without proper authorization and credentials.”
Clearview has been on an impressive streak of earning the disfavor of politicians, corporations, privacy advocates, journalists and citizens alike. The company has scraped millions of websites to amass a facial recognition database of some three billion photos, in the process violating the terms of service for industry giants like Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The company has been accused of monitoring how police are using the app to discourage them from interacting with journalists. Clearview was suspected of planning worldwide expansion, including to oppressive regimes, only to have its client list stolen, which showed it has already moved forward with those plans.
Now the company has managed to violate Apple’s rules about how developers can or cannot distribute apps. Given the company’s shady practices, it’s a safe bet no one will be shedding a tear over this one.