Clearview AI won’t sell vast faceprint collection to private companies

Clearview AI – the web-scraping, -amassing biometrics company that’s being sued over collecting biometrics without informed consent – says it’s no longer going to sell access to its program to a) entities or b) any entity whatsoever that’s located in Illinois.

Clearview’s artificial intelligence (AI) program can identify someone by matching photos of unknown people to their online photos and the sites where they were posted. Clearview AI founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That has claimed that the results are 99.6% accurate.

The company’s change of heart was revealed in court documents submitted during the course of a class action suit against Clearview that was filed in Illinois in January. It’s just one of multiple suits: Clearview’s also up against similar lawsuits in Vermont, New York and California.

The Illinois suit charges the company with breaking the nation’s strictest biometrics privacy law – Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) – by scraping some 3 billion faceprints from the web to sell to law enforcement and to what’s turned out to be a motley collection of private entities, including Macy’s, Walmart, Bank of America, Target, and Major League Baseball team The Chicago Cubs.

From a court declaration made by Clearview legal counsel Thomas Mulclaire and filed on Wednesday:

Clearview is in the process of cancelling the accounts of every remaining user who was not either a law enforcement body or other federal, state, or local government department, office or agency. At the same time, Clearview is in the process of cancelling all user accounts belonging to any entity located in Illinois.

The suit contends that Clearview violated BIPA by using biometric data for commercial purposes and is seeking a temporary injunction that would prevent the company from using the information of current and past Illinois residents for its facial recognition program.

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