The hits keep on coming: Clearview AI has been caught lying about who can access its controversial facial recognition software.
Clearview has amassed a database of billions of photos, scraped from millions of websites, including the biggest social media platforms. The company then makes that database available through its facial recognition software. Since The New York Times broke the story in January, Clearview has faced ongoing criticism from lawmakers and privacy advocates alike who say the company represents a fundamental threat to privacy.
To make matters worse, Buzzfeed discovered documents proving the company plans to expand internationally, including with authoritarian regimes. Following that, Clearview’s entire client list was stolen, showing its international expansion has already begun.
Amid the scrutiny and controversy, Clearview has tried to reassure critics that it is responsible in its use of its database. In fact, in a blog post on the company’s site, Clearview says its “search engine is available only for law enforcement agencies and select security professionals to use as an investigative tool.”
Similarly, the company’s Code of Conduct emphasizes their software is for law enforcement and security professionals, and that they hold themselves to a high standard of ethics, integrity and professionalism.
There’s just one problem: it’s not true, if the NYT’s report is accurate. According to the report, the NYT “has identified multiple individuals with active access to Clearview’s technology who are not law enforcement officials. And for more than a year before the company became the subject of public scrutiny, the app had been freely used in the wild by the company’s investors, clients and friends.
“Those with Clearview logins used facial recognition at parties, on dates and at business gatherings, giving demonstrations of its power for fun or using it to identify people whose names they didn’t know or couldn’t recall.”
This is just the latest example of the irresponsible and unethical way Clearview has conducted business.