Facebook, Google, YouTube order Clearview to stop scraping faceprints

Clearview AI, the facial recognition company that’s scraped the web for three billion and sold them all (or given them away) to 600 police departments so they could identify people within seconds, has received yet more cease-and-desist letters from social media giants.

The first came from Twitter. A few weeks ago, Twitter told Clearview to collecting its data and to delete whatever it’s got.

Facebook has also demanded that Clearview stop scraping photos because the action violates its policies, and now Google and are likewise telling the audacious startup to stop violating their policies against data scraping.

Clearview’s take on all this? Defiance. It’s got a legal right to data scraping, it says.

In an interview on Wednesday with CBS This Morning, Clearview AI founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That told listeners to trust him. The technology is only to be used by law enforcement, and only to identify potential criminals, he said.

The artificial intelligence (AI) program can identify someone by matching photos of unknown people to their online photos and the sites where they were posted. Ton-That claims that the results are 99.6% accurate.

Besides, he said, it’s his right to collect public photos to feed his facial recognition app:

There is also a First Amendment right to public information. So the way we have built our system is to only take publicly available information and index it that way.

Not everybody agrees. Some people think that their facial images shouldn’t be gobbled up without their consent. In fact, the nation’s strictest biometrics privacy law – the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) – says doing so is illegal. Clearview is already facing a potential class action lawsuit, filed last month, for allegedly violating that law.

YouTube’s statement:

YouTube’s Terms of Service explicitly forbid collecting data that can be used to identify a person. Clearview has publicly admitted to doing exactly that, and in response we sent them a cease and desist letter.

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