Clearview AI, the controversial facial recognition platform has settled a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The company has agreed to not sell its facial recognition database in the United State to private companies in the country. As things stand, only government agencies will be able to access the platform’s pool of data.
The settlement, which was filed with an Illinois state court states that Clearview will not monetize its database that contains more than 20 billion facial photos to private businesses and companies in the U.S. Having said that, Clearview can sell its database to state and federal agencies.
Clearview’s woes continue
A.C.L.U. filed a lawsuit against Clearview in May 2020 on behalf of different cohorts of people including sex workers, undocumented immigrants, and more. These groups have accused Clearview of breaching the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. The state law restricts private firms from using a citizen’s algorithmic maps of faces and bodily identifiers without consent.
The agreement carves a fresh wound to the U.S.-based startup, which has essentially built a facial registration system by picking up images from leading social media sites including LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. Typically, Clearview has sold its solution to government agencies and local police departments, including the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the F.B.I.
However, the company’s revolutionary technology is illegal in other countries including Australia, Canada, and some parts of Europe for breaching the privacy laws. In addition, Clearview is also starting at a provisional $22.6 million fine in the U.K. and a 20 million euro fine in Italy from the country’s data protection agency.
Lawmakers vs Clearview
Nathan Freed Wessler, Deputy Director of A.C.L.U’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project said that Clearview cannot make profits using the public’s unique biometric identification. He has also urged other states to replicate the actions taken by Illinois to safeguard biometric privacy laws.
Floyd Adams, a First Amendment attorney hired by Clearview has stood has defended the firm’s right to collect publicly available information and make it searchable. One sales technique that the company has deployed until now is providing free trials to potential clients. The clientele includes government employees, police offers, and private businesses.
The new settlement changes everything as Clearview will now have to adhere to a more formal process around trial accounts. Under the new settlement, individual police officers are required to take permission from the police department to use the facial recognition technology.
There is some respite for the company. The new settlement does not mean that the company cannot sell any product to business entities. Clearview can sell its facial recognition algorithm minus the 20 billion images to private firms.
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