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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday May 04, @12:18PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]

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

Related Stories

US Government Agencies Plan to Increase Their Use of Facial Recognition Technology 17 comments

US government agencies plan to increase their use of facial recognition technology:

A 90-page report published by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) details how federal agencies currently use, and plan to expand their use of, facial recognition systems. Ten of 24 agencies surveyed plan to broaden their use of the technology by 2023. Ten agencies are also investing in research and development for the technology.

The report, published August 24, is the outcome of a study requested by Congress on federal agencies' use of facial recognition during fiscal year 2020. It characterizes the use of the technology as "increasingly common," with most agencies surveyed using it for cybersecurity, domestic law enforcement, or physical security. The report also asked all agencies that participated in the study about their future plans for facial recognition.

The results come after a year of public backlash from privacy and civil liberties advocates against police and government use of the technology. Facial recognition has proved to be less accurate on people with darker skin, women, and younger and older people. A report from the GAO released earlier this summer also described a lack of oversight by federal law enforcement agencies that use the technology.

France Has Ordered Clearview AI to Delete its Facial Recognition Data 16 comments

France Has Ordered Clearview AI To Delete Its Facial Recognition Data:

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.


Original Submission

Facial Recognition Firm Clearview AI Tells Investors: It's Seeking Massive Expansion 22 comments

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

Italy Slaps Facial Recognition Firm Clearview AI With €20 Million Fine 5 comments

Italy slaps facial recognition firm Clearview AI with €20 million fine:

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.

Ukraine Reportedly Adopts Clearview AI to Track Russian Invaders 7 comments

Ukraine reportedly adopts Clearview AI to track Russian invaders:

Ukraine is reportedly using Clearview AI technologies to track "people of interest" during the Russian invasion.

On March 13, Reuters reported that the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine had adopted the firm's facial recognition engine.

Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That offered the US company's assistance to Kyiv, and according to the news outlet, the AI tech is being used to "potentially vet people of interest at checkpoints, among other uses," for free.

The startup has not offered the same to Russia, of which President Putin calls the war a "special military operation."

Clearview offers facial recognition technologies to law enforcement for criminal investigations. The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) awarded the company a patent in January for using publicly-available data -- including mugshots, social media profiles, and news sites -- to match "similar photos using its proprietary facial recognition algorithm."


Original Submission

Clearview AI Agrees to Limits in Court Settlement 4 comments

Facial recognition startup Clearview AI has agreed to restrict the use of its massive collection of face images to settle allegations that it collected people's photos without their consent:

The company in a legal filing Monday agreed to permanently stop selling access to its face database to private businesses or individuals around the U.S., putting a limit on what it can do with its ever-growing trove of billions of images pulled from social media and elsewhere on the internet.

The settlement — which must be approved by a county judge in Chicago — will end a 2-year-old lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups over alleged violations of an Illinois digital privacy law. The company still faces a separate privacy case before a federal judge in Illinois.

Clearview is also agreeing to stop making its database available to Illinois state government and local police departments for five years. The New York-based company will continue offering its services to federal agencies, such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and to other law enforcement agencies and government contractors outside of Illinois.

[...] The settlement document says Clearview continues to deny and dispute the claims brought by the ACLU and other plaintiffs. But even before Monday's settlement, the case has been curtailing some of the company's controversial business practices.

Also at The Guardian, CNN, TechCrunch, ACLU.

Previously
Why Facial Recognition Technology Has an Uncertain Future with Small Business


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, @12:53PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, @12:53PM (#1242181)

    maybe its to recognized well-monied clients when shelfs fullness becomes ... limited?
    pretty sure well thought out facial recog would have given speedy take-off permits in the movie "2012" heyya?

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by looorg on Wednesday May 04, @02:28PM (9 children)

    by looorg (578) on Wednesday May 04, @02:28PM (#1242208)

    Considering getting into AI and Facial recognition is kind of large, expensive, require a certain set of technical skills and doesn't really pan out all the time there is no surprise that this might have an uncertain future (or to be more correct no future) for small businesses. Even if this comes in the form of a no-brain-just-hookup-device what would they even use it for? Do I need it to identify the few clients I have as a small business owner? Not really. I know them all. It's not really a walk in business either so I don't need it for that. That said in general it seems these things just doesn't pan out. I also don't have a need, or in the business of, to identify dead russians and/or pedophiles. So what would I use it for?

    It's a big brother state/country and large company tech that basically have no use, or no viable use, for small companies. There just isn't a need. They can't really afford it or the investment in time, money and personnel involved. No matter how much of a niche they might want to or try to create (for security or know your customers or whatever other creepy shit they might be dreaming up). Even for the aforementioned a lot of the usage is clearly somewhat dubious and one wonder if the need really outweigh all the downsides.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday May 04, @04:20PM (7 children)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 04, @04:20PM (#1242240) Journal

      Do I need it to identify the few clients I have as a small business owner?

      Do you want to keep anti-mask Karens out of your shop?

      This could speed up airlines' recognizing people on the airline's private no-fly list. (Not the federal terrorist no fly list. A private no-fly list.) The FAA's zero tolerance policy of disruptive passengers is officially now permanent. (recently announced) The FAA is now fining these people in the high five figures. (70-80K) One would hope the fine would be enough to keep them off of future flights that they dream of disrupting. But a privately maintained list is necessary.

      Small businesses, like airlines, could share information on disruptive people who are not good customers and who drive away good customers. The facial recognition system could spot them before they attempt (and fail) to open the front door and enter the small business they wish to disrupt.

      --
      Difference between inlaws and outlaws: outlaws are wanted.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, @05:21PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, @05:21PM (#1242256)

        Hey now, don't be making dystopia sound appealing!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, @08:36PM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, @08:36PM (#1242295)

        why don't we hook up your proposed facial recognition "anti-troll" program to a social credit system while we're at it too. and all-digital currency!

        what could possibly go wrong! you were having a bad day and got in an argument with another airline passenger? congratulations, you're booted off the flight and your life ruined in minutes! have a nice day!

        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday May 05, @01:33PM (2 children)

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 05, @01:33PM (#1242439) Journal

          How about grow up and learn to act like an adult instead of a three year old throwing a tantrum.

          Sometimes you will have a bad day. Sometimes you will have a disagreement with someone else who also might be having a bad day. An adult would not disrupt an entire flight. Ruin the day of other travelers. Cause the airline to incur costs to divert and land only so that your three year old self can be arrested, put in jail and fined tens of thousands of dollars. Disrupting everyone else's travel plans by hours. Causing missed connections which further costs the airline.

          Oh, and don't try to open the aircraft door at 30,000 feet just because you're having a bad day.

          If you cannot act any better than that, then you deserve to never fly again. For the good of everyone else. Everyone else is paying all those huge costs you are causing the airline. Because you have a complete disregard for your own safety and the safety of everyone else at 30,000 feet.

          If you can't act like an adult, with disregard for safety, they should throw away the key.

          --
          Difference between inlaws and outlaws: outlaws are wanted.
          • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday May 05, @01:47PM

            by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 05, @01:47PM (#1242448) Journal

            One more thing.

            The fright attendant is there to do their job. They go home. Have a family. Have a life. Etc.

            If you are going to physically assault the fright attendant, break their teeth and bloody their face, you deserve at least a year in prison IMO.

            There is nothing about your "having a bad day" which can possibly justify that. And other horrible things these criminal types do on aircraft in order to get on the airline's bad side (eg, private no fly list)

            --
            Difference between inlaws and outlaws: outlaws are wanted.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 05, @04:57PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 05, @04:57PM (#1242522)

            so to be clear what you're saying is that you're fine with my scenario

      • (Score: 2) by maxwell demon on Thursday May 05, @10:10AM (1 child)

        by maxwell demon (1608) on Thursday May 05, @10:10AM (#1242406) Journal

        I wouldn't have considered airlines small businesses, but then, I don't see the value of facial recognition there anyway. Don't you have to identify yourself to the airline in the US? I certainly need to do so in Europe. And that way they have a far more reliable identifier to check any list they might have, whether official or airline-specific, than facial recognition could ever provide.

        --
        The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday May 05, @01:36PM

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 05, @01:36PM (#1242440) Journal

          As one Republican famously said: corporations are people too!

          You can't get much smaller of a business than a one person business in the form of a corporation.

          --
          Difference between inlaws and outlaws: outlaws are wanted.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @06:33AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, @06:33AM (#1243688)

      I thought public images were accepted for news purposes, but that any overtly commercial use required actor's releases for copyright purposes. Is that only true on a 'closed set'? If not why do most movies use huge crowds of extras rather than normal public pedestrians for background characters, consistency in filming?

      Just a few thoughts in regards to how we could kibosh this whole industry.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, @05:09PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, @05:09PM (#1242253)

    ...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.

    Uh, I think they forgot to mention exactly why the Ukranians do this. Not good people - that's some Nazis-level psycological warfare.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, @07:17PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 04, @07:17PM (#1242281)

      No need to Godwin this discussion. I don't think that Hitler/Nazis bothered to identify battlefield casualties and notify next of kin (except possibly officers?)

      Yes, I agree that the Ukrainians (and the Russians) are involved in psychological warfare.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by tangomargarine on Wednesday May 04, @08:51PM

    by tangomargarine (667) on Wednesday May 04, @08:51PM (#1242297)

    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

    Okay, that's a bit creepy...but I can think of a lot worse uses of the technology...

    and for the involvement of far-right individuals in the creation of the company.

    Oh good, we're on another Mozilla Brendan Eich witchhunt that isn't relevant to the thing itself. I guess, the worry is they leak their database to a militia group or something that decides to hunt you down and shoot your dog?

    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

    Ooh boy, I'm sure these will be good.

    its use in helping catch criminals in child pornography and child abuse cases.

    Won't somebody please think of the children!!?!?

    by the Ukrainian government to identify dead Russian soldiers, for notifying their families of their passing.

    No no, you're supposed to name THE TERRRISTS as your next example, dude. Haven't you ever done this before?

    (P.S: The *Ukrainian* government is identifying dead *Russian* soldiers? Considering all the horrible things Russia is doing to them, why bother? If anything it's in Ukraine's interest for Russian citizens back home to *not* know what happened to their husbands and brothers and sons, for more domestic pressure to end the war?)

    While Clearview AI has some 20 billion facial images to feed its current product, the dataset is being used only by governments so far.

    *cough*

    "There's no non-governmental use of this dataset at this time,"

    *cough* *cough*

    Ton-That went on to say he welcomes regulation and his company will not do business with governments he described as "authoritarian."

    --

    Man, whenever you see somebody try this hard to spin something like this, you just know it's bad news.

    "No no, see, the drones will automatically deliver dog food to your front door for your puppies! They may also, erm, *ahem*, automatically shoot you in the face if you happen to be on our secret government blacklist--but that only happens to *bad* people! There's no need to regulate us!"

    PupperDrone: For When You Don't Want To Get Off Your Couch.*

    *warningmayresultinsummaryexecution.pupperdronellcisnotlegallyresponsiblefordeathofyourlovedones.

    --
    "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
  • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Thursday May 05, @01:45AM (4 children)

    by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 05, @01:45AM (#1242346) Homepage Journal

    You could use it to classify your private pr0n collection. Not necessarily to identify each model, but just to figure out which images are likely of the same person.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by janrinok on Thursday May 05, @06:52AM (3 children)

      by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 05, @06:52AM (#1242382) Journal

      I think it only works on faces.....

      --
      We are always looking for new staff in different areas - please volunteer if you have some spare time and wish to help
      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 05, @11:59AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 05, @11:59AM (#1242420)

        What kind of porn do you watch where there are no faces ...

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday May 05, @01:39PM (1 child)

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 05, @01:39PM (#1242442) Journal

        There is nothing magical about faces or about the implementation of these neural networks that make them only work on faces. All they do is learn patterns and classify them.

        Genitals are as different and unique as faces.

        --
        Difference between inlaws and outlaws: outlaws are wanted.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 05, @01:52PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 05, @01:52PM (#1242449)

          I can imagine the AI-pitch-meeting now - JunkAI! They could probably sell it as a product that identify dickpics or something similar.

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