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posted by martyb on Friday February 18, @08:21AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the flexible-principles dept.

Facial recognition firm Clearview AI tells investors it's seeking massive expansion beyond law enforcement:

The facial recognition company Clearview AI is telling investors it is on track to have 100 billion facial photos in its database within a year, enough to ensure "almost everyone in the world will be identifiable," according to a financial presentation from December obtained by The Washington Post.

Those images — equivalent to 14 photos for each of the 7 billion people on Earth — would help power a surveillance system that has been used for arrests and criminal investigations by thousands of law enforcement and government agencies around the world.

And the company wants to expand beyond scanning faces for the police, saying in the presentation that it could monitor "gig economy" workers and is researching a number of new technologies that could identify someone based on how they walk, detect their location from a photo or scan their fingerprints from afar.

The 55-page "pitch deck," the contents of which have not been reported previously, reveals surprising details about how the company, whose work already is controversial, is positioning itself for a major expansion, funded in large part by government contracts and the taxpayers the system would be used to monitor.

The document was made for fundraising purposes, and it is unclear how realistic its goals might be. The company said that its "index of faces" has grown from 3 billion images to more than 10 billion since early 2020 and that its data collection system now ingests 1.5 billion images a month.

It's a long-format story that is very-well-supported and worth reading in its entirety.

Original Submission

Related Stories

Why Facial Recognition Technology Has an Uncertain Future with Small Business 19 comments

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.

Previously:
Ukraine Reportedly Adopts Clearview AI to Track Russian Invaders
Italy Slaps Facial Recognition Firm Clearview AI With €20 Million Fine
Facial Recognition Firm Clearview AI Tells Investors: It's Seeking Massive Expansion
France Has Ordered Clearview AI to Delete its Facial Recognition Data
US Government Agencies Plan to Increase Their Use of Facial Recognition Technology
And many more


Original Submission

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  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, @09:32AM (12 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, @09:32AM (#1222746)

    There were several rejected aristarchus submissions about this company in the past. Could someone dredge them up? (Since Ari is no longer here.)

    • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Friday February 18, @10:57AM (11 children)

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 18, @10:57AM (#1222756) Journal

      Complaining about rejected submissions is always off-topic. See the submissions page:

      Note: grousing about declined submissions is Offtopic and usually gets moderated that way. It happens, don't take it personally.

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      • (Score: 2) by PinkyGigglebrain on Friday February 18, @05:39PM (10 children)

        by PinkyGigglebrain (4458) on Friday February 18, @05:39PM (#1222868)

        There were several rejected aristarchus submissions about this company in the past. Could someone dredge them up? (Since Ari is no longer here.)

        Doesn't read like their complaining about anything. They are just pointing out that there have been other related articles that were submitted in the past that didn't get approved and a request that someone find them since the original poster is unable to do so.

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        "Beware those who would deny you Knowledge, For in their hearts they dream themselves your Master."
        • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Friday February 18, @08:07PM (9 children)

          by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 18, @08:07PM (#1222921) Journal

          Any stories that I process which are rejected are usually returned to the submitter (where known) with a recommendation that they put them in their journal. I give the same advice to aristarchus. If he didn't think that they were worth publishing then at least on that point we will agree with him.

          since the original poster is unable to do so.

          I have been through all submissions from aristarchus back to June 2020 and there are no submissions relating to Clearview in that list. That is 500 submission which is all that his submissions pages display. His submission acceptance rate is around 13%.

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          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 19, @12:38AM (8 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 19, @12:38AM (#1222977)

            2-second search of the site, for Clearview, brings up https://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=20/02/26/1944236 [soylentnews.org]

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 19, @12:42AM (4 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 19, @12:42AM (#1222979)

              Where there is a comment linking to this, rejected submission? https://soylentnews.org/submit.pl?op=viewsub&subid=38976 [soylentnews.org] Evidently, rejected submissions do not go away.

              • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Saturday February 19, @02:29AM (3 children)

                by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 19, @02:29AM (#1223017) Journal

                The rejection goes directly to the submitter automatically by Admin to User message. It isn't stored as part of the submission because it is not part of the submission.

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                • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 22, @02:36AM (2 children)

                  by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 22, @02:36AM (#1223769)

                  So why does the header on this rejected submission say it is a rejected submission?

                  Rejected submission by aristarchus at 2020-02-06 00:17:31 from the FaceOn-FaceOff dept.

                  • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday February 22, @06:42AM

                    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 22, @06:42AM (#1223826) Journal

                    Because I fed the single link that you must have spent ages typing into upstart. Upstart just extracts the story not the rubbish that we do not want (adverts, links to other news items, your editorialising of the content etc). The editor can feed the submitters name into a special HTML intro field and it will credit that account with the karma. Guess what? - we couldn't find GhostOfAristarchus so there was nothing to paste into that field. And you have spent so much time on IRC telling us that the GhostOfAristarchus is NOT the same as aristarchus, so I took you at your word and ignored the spurious username.

                    upstart then produced the 'submission' that we actually used. Your original major effort to type that link remained in the submission queue. The only way to remove it is to delete it. So I did and it is marked as rejected.

                    I told you how to do it when you were making the submission but you insist on trying to game a system that you obviously do not understand. Hence your attempt led to failure. If you want to be credited with the karma, log in and use the submissions page - but in your case you have managed to earn yourself a ban so currently cannot even do that. You have been told that you may continue to use the site but only as an AC. You do not get karma as an AC. Please think before you do silly things and then use that failed attempt to complain that the site isn't set up to allow you to abuse it. Your situation is one of your own making.

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                  • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Tuesday February 22, @06:51AM

                    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday February 22, @06:51AM (#1223829) Journal

                    So why does the header on this rejected submission say it is a rejected submission?

                    Which header? If I click on the link you provided it doesn't mention 'Rejected'. Perhaps you are looking at it elsewhere?

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            • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Saturday February 19, @02:57AM (2 children)

              by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 19, @02:57AM (#1223019) Journal

              I clearly wrote that I checked back through Ari's submissions as far as June of 2020. You have provided a submission link from February 2020. There is no conflict in the dates and both of our statements are true.

              If you read the submission you can probably see why it was rejected. The report is not unbiased and neutral, but goes on to describe an individual as "alt-right provocateur and anti-semite", another who is a "former aid to President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Guliani" and "numerous other alt-right and white supremacist figures". Submissions from aristarchus do tend to support his political beliefs rather than report the facts - which is why I usually suggest that he puts them in his journal.

              I can find 19 previous stories about Clearview that have been posted on this site which were NOT submitted by aristarchus (i.e. not rejected submissions but front page stories). You didn't mention any of them. The reporting has been well covered by SN.

              If the submission was so easy to find why were we asked to 'dig out' his previous submissions? Please do your own work in future.

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              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 19, @10:42AM (1 child)

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 19, @10:42AM (#1223086)

                So why is SN covering up the fact that Clearview is run by the alt-right? Inquiring minds (and faces) want to know!

                • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Saturday February 19, @11:07AM

                  by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 19, @11:07AM (#1223094) Journal
                  Because we covered it in a previous story. Thanks for wasting my time ari....
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                  We are always looking for new staff in different areas - please volunteer if you have some spare time and wish to help
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, @10:01AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, @10:01AM (#1222747)

    Since they're most obviously not an "enemy of the state", could some suitably powerful and similarly non-communist entity please designate them as "enemies of the people"?

    The US _does_ have a shoot-on-sight statute for enemies of the people, does it?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, @12:41PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, @12:41PM (#1222770)

      How do we add this company to the "nuke from orbit list"? Any ideas??

      Lacking that solution, I suggest that this company will be first against the wall when the revolution comes...(like Douglas Adams' Sirius Cybernetics Corporation).

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Saturday February 19, @01:29AM (1 child)

        by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 19, @01:29AM (#1222990) Journal

        Cops have been wanting facial recognition for at least 25 years now. If they get what they want, it's going to be abused. Law enforcement's expectations about the capabilities are way off. They think it can be near perfect. It won't be, it's going to have lots and lots of false positives and negatives. I wonder if this business really appreciates the tremendous difficulties in scaling up to millions of people? It's one thing to implement facial recognition for a thousand people. Quite another for millions. Well, another possibility is that this company is suckering the buyers. Anyone in this business knows that law enforcement and other government agencies want this so bad they are susceptible to being conned.

        But like many did with highly fallible drugs tests, if they get it, law enforcement is going to run with the thought that facial recognition is perfect. I saw that same kind of b.s. thinking with traffic light cameras. I went to a hearing and questioned the accuracy, and they brushed that argument aside. I brought evidence that the lights were mistimed. They didn't even look at it. For purposes of determining guilt or innocence, the hearing operated as if the system was beyond question. I was told I could raise those questions in municipal court, but I'd already wasted enough time on the hearing. It wasn't the main reason I went anyway. It was in part for the experience, which I did find somewhat interesting, and in part to make sure the city did not profit off the fine they imposed on me. That's what traffic light cameras really are, of course, a backhanded way to generate revenue, with fears over an imaginary epidemic of red light light running and public safety the b.s. excuse, so I was sure the hearing would not be fair. However, I'm also sure it cost them more to hold the hearing than they got from me. Nevertheless, I gave it my best shot, went in there with what I hoped were real chances, however faint, of winning.

        There could be thrilling unintended consequences to facial recognition. How about, attendance at rock concerts drops 90% because there's a system that not only does facial recognition, but also intoxication recognition that's so good they can tell what you're on? A positive outcome is even possible. That is, suppose the technology catches so many people that the law has to be changed, resulting in the decriminalization of a whole lot of things that should never have been criminal in the first place? Such as, drug usage. And downloading.

        • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Saturday February 19, @04:09AM

          by deimtee (3272) on Saturday February 19, @04:09AM (#1223027) Journal

          I went to a hearing and questioned the accuracy, and they brushed that argument aside. I brought evidence that the lights were mistimed. They didn't even look at it. For purposes of determining guilt or innocence, the hearing operated as if the system was beyond question.

          Fun fact: In AU speed cameras and radar guns are beyond questioning. The Acts governing them actually give them the status of "calibrated scientific instruments" and you cannot dispute their accuracy in court.

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  • (Score: 2) by PiMuNu on Friday February 18, @12:50PM (1 child)

    by PiMuNu (3823) Subscriber Badge on Friday February 18, @12:50PM (#1222774)

    Is it possible to authorise a "class action" style GDPR take down?

    E.g. if there were a website that had a simple clickable interface and then they would handle the admin. Funded by donations/etc.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, @03:16PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, @03:16PM (#1222824)

      It's a US company, working from the US. The EU and the member states have pretty much zero jurisdiction.

      You _might_ get at their EU customers, but much more egregious flauntings of the law have been successfully hidden by corporations for decades ...

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by garfiejas on Friday February 18, @02:03PM

    by garfiejas (2072) on Friday February 18, @02:03PM (#1222787)

    GDPR make this type of system illegal - https://www.theregister.com/2021/05/27/clearview_europe/ [theregister.com] - its breaks Canada's data privacy laws https://www.theregister.com/2021/06/11/canadas_privacy_watchdog_said_police/ [theregister.com] and especially France - https://www.dataguidance.com/news/france-cnil-orders-clearview-ai-cease-data-collection [dataguidance.com]

    I'm sure people are aware on this site of what Clearview and its ilk (we have to assume there are more than just one of these types of system - collecting, analysing and matching "Social" media) does to our intelligence agencies or just privacy in genera.

    Wondering if the new data privacy laws in California will have any effect...

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, @03:16PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, @03:16PM (#1222826)

    When rulers need such extreme security measures, one has to wonder: why is their conscience so heavy? What have they done wrong to dread their own peoples so much?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, @05:17PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, @05:17PM (#1222857)

    well if people WILLINGLY upload their own photos to the internet (i mean, they have a account/registered on public social internet space) then this is fair game and considered already giving consent.

    why in gods name doing a image search on google doesn't already provide the name of the "artist" is beyond me :D i guess getting the name (and phone number?) of photos you get when doing a image search "sexy korean" requires payment and proof of owning a yacht?

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