Clearview is an artificial intelligence development company that has been in the news for creating a facial recognition database through Facebook photos. The database was developed for use by police departments throughout the United States. The controversy was generated because more than 30 billion images posted on the social network were taken without users’ consent.
In addition to Facebook, images were extracted from websites and other social networks, something that violates users’ privacy. Not only has there been strong criticism that the images were used, but also that they were obtained without authorization or knowledge of the individuals.
It should be noted that Clearview has been fined in Australia and Europe as well for privacy violations in data handling. In fact, Clearview is prohibited from selling services to U.S. companies but the police have an exemption. The ban came after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a legal dispute with Clearview for violating privacy laws.
How does Clearview’s artificial intelligence collect and use data?
Doubts about the use of facial recognition technology lie mainly in how invasive they are. In the case of Clearview, the database generated makes everyone a participant in a police lineup. This happens without having authorized it and without even knowing that they are part of the test.
The technique used to obtain the images from social networks and websites is web scraping. This is a technique that consists of extracting content from websites through software. Some of the uses of this technique are in price comparison or market research.
It should be noted that this is a legal technique; the controversy with Clearview lies in the fact that it has extracted personal photographs without authorization. In addition, these images are used in the search for suspects of a crime, something that violates privacy. Another warning generated by this use is that there may be misidentifications and even erroneous arrests.
The tool in question allows police forces to attach a photograph of a suspect for artificial intelligence to compare with the collected image database. If you find a matching image, provide the links where the image appears.
Whistleblowing and ethical issues for Clearview artificial intelligence
According to Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That, the images are public because the technology he uses is legal, as well as being useful in solving crimes. In addition to this, it also mentions that only the police department has access to the database and not the general public. However, the failure to inform users about the use of their images raises questions about the ethics of this artificial intelligence company.
The truth is that Facebook has sent a cease and desist letter to Clearview to demand that they stop collecting the data and using it for any purpose.