BuzzFeed News: Clearview’s outreach locations9. April 2021
BuzzFeed News: Clearview’s outreach locations.
New York, 4/9/2021
An anonymous source provided BuzzFeed News with a list of companies and government agencies where employees have used Clearview AI’s facial recognition tool on a trial basis. According to the list, it was active in at least 1,803 government agencies from 2018 to February 2020. Many of those employees never had permission from higher-ups to try out the technology.
Buzzfeed describes how Clearview marketed the tool to police and government agencies, though it declined to reveal who they were. It sent free trials to individual employees, some of whom accessed the system without informing their employers.
Clearview is under investigation in both Australia and the U.K. for its data collection practices. The New York-based startup scours the Internet for publicly available photos to build a database that authorities can match with photos of suspects, for example.
Another Buzzfeed article describes how Clearview was an “approved vendor” to the NYPD for years, though the police department denies any relationship with the startup “formally or informally.” This included customer support and face-to-face meetings with Clearview co-founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That, who reportedly approved a trial period for services that ran from late 2018 to early 2019.
In Europe, Big Brother Watch UK, AlgorithmWatch and other activist groups have called on the European Commission to completely ban facial recognition for mass surveillance. The Commission is reportedly considering a five-year ban on facial recognition technology due to its “Big Brother” implications.