Few companies would proudly tout their business plan as providing more comprehensive monitoring than China, but Clearview AI does just that.
Clearview AI has gained fame and notoriety for extracting images from popular websites and social media platforms in an effort to create a huge database of photos for facial recognition – and in violation of those platforms’ terms. The company claimed to only provide its software to law enforcement and government agencies, but reports indicate it was much looser than it admitted in terms of who had access to its platform. form. Additionally, the company was found to be working with various authoritarian regimes.
As if the company could no longer become controversial, The Washington Post reports that the company proudly calls its monitoring platform more comprehensive than similar systems in China, thanks to the “public source metadata” and “social link” information on which the company bases its product.
Clearview is also working to establish itself as the leader in the field, at a time when industry leaders are taking a more responsible and measured approach to facial recognition. Clearview, on the other hand, views the cautious approach of Microsoft, Amazon and IBM as a market opportunity as it seeks to secure investment for a massive expansion effort.
Moreover, according to The post office, the company sends mixed messages about its projects. So far, Clearview has promised to only sell to law enforcement and government agencies. In the presentation material seen by The post office, however, government contracts represent only a small portion of the company’s potential market. The presentation material deals with the staffing of the company, specifically to target the financial and commercial market. Even more alarming, Clearview wants to build a “developer ecosystem” to help other companies use its database in their own products.
Jack Poulson, a former Google researcher and current head of research advocacy group Tech Inquiry, asked if there was anything for “won’t they sell this mass surveillance?” If they’re only selling it for regular commercial use, that’s just mass surveillance writ large. It is not targeted at the most extreme cases, as they have promised in the past.
Clearview’s unethical behavior and irresponsible approach to privacy and data security, not to mention the legal implications of its data collection, has already led to multiple lawsuits, investigations and bans in some countries and jurisdictions.
Hopefully more countries will crack down on this low end.