from the not-so-clear-any-more dept.
Facial recognition company Clearview AI has been hit with another order by a country's watchdog agency to delete the personal data of its citizens, the latest in a global rebuke by privacy regulators around the world.
On Thursday, France's Commission Nationale Informatique et Libertés (CNIL) said Clearview had breached Europe's overarching data protection law, known as GDPR. It gave the company two months to delete the personal information it had collected and stop "unlawful processing" of the data.
The order comes after similar decisions from the UK and Australia in recent weeks. Clearview has built its business by scraping people's photos from the web and social media and indexing them in a vast facial recognition database.
The crackdown follows a series of BuzzFeed News investigations revealing widespread and sometimes unsanctioned use of the company's facial recognition software around the world. In August, BuzzFeed News reported that France's Ministry of the Interior is listed as having run more than 400 searches on Clearview, according to the facial recognition company's internal data. Despite the records, a spokesperson for the agency at the time said it had no information on Clearview.
Clearview AI's co-founder Hoan Ton-That recently defended his startup's use of controversial facial recognition software:
If you're skeptical about whether your company will ever use facial recognition technology as a business tool, you're not alone. Perhaps the most prominent facial recognition technology provider in the world, Clearview AI, has attracted significant criticism and raised ethical concerns even as it has been used by law enforcement.
In a live interview with the Washington Post last week, New York-based Clearview AI's co-founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That addressed questions about the ethical and legal implications of his software, which became first known to many Americans when a billionaire used it to identify his daughter's dinner date, and for the involvement of far-right individuals in the creation of the company. Pressed on questions about the legal and ethical choices his firm has made while creating a searchable database of 20 billion facial images, Ton-That repeatedly brought up examples where the use cases of Clearview AI's technology would look better in the public eye, mentioning its use in helping catch criminals in child pornography and child abuse cases. Ton-That also pointed to the use of Clearview AI's technology by the Ukrainian government to identify dead Russian soldiers, for notifying their families of their passing.
While Clearview AI has some 20 billion facial images to feed its current product, the dataset is being used only by governments so far. "There's no non-governmental use of this dataset at this time," Ton-That said, adding that "we've developed as prototypes different versions of our technology for retail and banking."
Ton-That went on to say he welcomes regulation and his company will not do business with governments he described as "authoritarian."
Originally spotted on The Eponymous Pickle.
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