Clearview AI worked to build a national database of every mug shot taken in the United States during the past 15 years, according to an email obtained by OneZero through a public records request.
The email, sent by a representative for Clearview AI in August 2019, was in response to an inquiry from the Green Bay Police Department in Wisconsin, which had asked if there was a way to upload its own mug shots to Clearview AI’s app.
“We are… working to acquire all U.S. mugshots nationally from the last 15 years, so once we have that integrated in a few months’ time it might just be superfluous anyway,” wrote the Clearview AI employee, whose name was redacted.
Clearview AI is best known for scraping the public internet, including social media, for billions of images to power its facial recognition app, which was first reported on by the New York Times. Some of those images are pulled from online repositories of mug shots, like Rapsheets.org and Arrests.org, according to other emails obtained by OneZero. Acquiring a national mug shot database would make Clearview AI an even more powerful tool for police departments, which would be able to easily match a photograph of an individual against their criminal history.
Clearview AI did not immediately respond to a request for comment from OneZero. It is unclear whether the company ultimately succeeded in acquiring such a database.