Data rights groups have filed complaints in the UK, France, Austria, Greece and Italy against Clearview AI, claiming its scraped and searchable database of biometric profiles breaches both the EU and UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The facial recognition company, which is based in the US, claims to have “the largest known database of 3+ billion facial images”. Clearview AI’s facial recognition tool is trained on images harvested from YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and attempts to match faces fed into its machine learning software with results from its multi-billion picture database. The business then provides a link to the place it found the “match”.
Google, Twitter, Facebook and even Venmo all sent cease and desist letters to Clearview AI last year asking that it stop scraping people’s photos from their websites. The firm’s CEO defended its business model at the time by saying: “Google can pull in information from all different websites. So if it’s public and it’s out there and could be inside Google’s search engine, it can be inside ours as well.”
The US firm was sued last year by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU also sued the US Department of Homeland Security and its law enforcement agencies last month for failing to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests about their use of Clearview’s tech.
Back in January this year, [PDF], Chaos Computer Club member Matthias Marx managed to get Clearview to delete the hash value representing his biometric profile – although not the actual images or metadata – after filing a complaint with the Hamburg data protection authorities.
The decision by the Hamburg DPA was that Clearview AI had added his biometric profile to its searchable database without his knowledge or consent. It did not order the deletion of the photographs, however.
“It is long known that Clearview AI has not only me, but many, probably thousands of Europeans in its illegal face database. An order by the European data protection authorities to remove the faces of all Europeans is long overdue,” Marx told The Reg via email. “It is not a solution that every person has to file [their] own complaint.”