Italy's data privacy watchdog said it will fine the controversial facial recognition firm Clearview AI for breaching EU law. An investigation by Garante, Italy's data protection authority, found that the company's database of 10 billion images of faces includes those of Italians and residents in Italy. The New York City-based firm is being fined €20 million, and will also have to delete any facial biometrics it holds of Italian nationals.
This isn't the first time that the beleaguered facial recognition tech company is facing legal consequences. The UK data protection authority last November fined the company £17 million after finding its practices—which include collecting selfies of people without their consent from security camera footage or mugshots—violate the nation's data protection laws. The company has also been banned in Sweden, France and Australia.
[...] Despite losing troves of facial recognition data from entire countries, Clearview AI has a plan to rapidly expand this year. The company told investors that it is on track to have 100 billion photos of faces in its database within a year, reported The Washington Post. In its pitch deck, the company said it hopes to secure an additional $50 million from investors to build even more facial recognition tools and ramp up its lobbying efforts.
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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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