Clearview AI

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Clearview AI
Private
IndustryFacial recognition
Founded2017
FoundersHoan Ton-That
Richard Schwartz
Headquarters
Areas served
United States, Canada
Websitewww.clearview.ai

Clearview AI is an American technology company that provides facial recognition software, which is used by private companies, law enforcement agencies, universities and individuals. The company has developed technology that can match faces to a database of more than three billion images scraped from the Internet, including social media applications.[1] Founded by Hoan Ton-That and Richard Schwartz, the company maintained a low profile until late 2019, when its usage by law enforcement was reported on.[2][1][3] The company has long-standing links to the alt-right and neo-Nazis.[4]

In January 2020, Twitter sent a cease and desist letter and requested the deletion of all collected data.[5] This was followed by similar actions by YouTube (via Google) and Facebook in February.[6] Clearview sells access to its database to law enforcement agencies for use in cases such as child sexual abuse and has 2,400 active users in North America according to The Wall Street Journal.[7][8][9][10] However, contrary to Clearview's claims that its service is sold only to law enforcement, a data breach in early 2020 revealed that numerous commercial organizations were on Clearview's customer list.[11]

History[edit]

Huffington Post linked Smartchekr as likely being founded by Pax Dickinson, Chuck Johnson, Richard Schwartz, and Hoan Ton-That, all active on Dickinson's WeSearchr Slack channel, which Huffpost called an "alt-right clique".[12] In a cybersecurity opinion piece in The Hill, psychiatrist and professor Elias Aboujaoude noted it is "[s]o private it listed a fake Manhattan address as its business location", stating facial recognition companies including Clearview are "the other reason we may need a face mask" after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.[13]

Marketing claims[edit]

Clearview's marketing claimed their facial recognition led to a terrorist arrest. The identification was submitted to the New York Police Department tip line, but the NYPD did not use this tip to identify the suspect, and stated they have no institutional relationship with Clearview, though some 'rogue officers' use it.[14][15][16] Clearview claims to have solved two other New York cases and "40 cold cases", later stating they submitted them to tip lines.[2]

The company was sent a cease and desist letter from the office of New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal after including a promotional video on its website with the images of Grewal. Clearview had claimed that its app played a role in a New Jersey police sting, which Grewal confirmed had been used to identify one of the child predators. He banned the use of Clearview in all 21 counties in New Jersey and stated that "we need to have a full understanding of what is happening here and ensure there are appropriate safeguards" before using similar products. Tor Ekeland, a lawyer for Clearview, confirmed the marketing video was taken down the same day.[15][17][18]

Clearview states their technology is not for public consumption and meant for law enforcement usage, but their marketing material encouraged users to "run wild" with their use, suggesting searching for family and friends as well as celebrities. Clearview also indicated they were targeting private security firms and marketed to casinos through Clearview's Jessica Medeiros Garrison.[19] Clearview planned expansion to many countries, including Brazil, Colombia, and Nigeria, a cluster that Buzzfeed titles "authoritarian regimes" including United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Singapore, and General Data Protection Regulation-following EU countries including Italy, Greece, and Netherlands.[20]

Accuracy[edit]

Documents from Clearview have claimed 98.6% or 100% accuracy while using their standard 99.6% confidence interval. Clearview provided an October 2019 document to the North Miami Police Department indicating they used a public review panel, consisting of Jonathan Lippman (former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals, currently at Latham & Watkins, introduced via Richard Schwartz), Nicholas Cassimatis (businessperson), and Aaron Renn (formerly at Manhattan Institute) while using the methodology that ACLU used to test Amazon Rekognition. Jacob Snow of the ACLU responded, stating Clearview's test "couldn't be more different than the ACLU's work", pointed out the accuracy flaws and lack of actual racial bias methodology, and objected to Clearview implying that ACLU might endorse their "dangerous and untested surveillance product".[21][22][23][24]

Data leaks[edit]

In February 2020, multiple sources reported that Clearview AI had experienced a data breach, exposing its list of customers. Clearview's attorney, Tor Ekeland stated the flaw has been patched.[25][26]

In April 2020, TechCrunch reported that Mossab Hussein of SpiderSilk, a security firm, discovered Clearview's source code repositories had been exposed with a misconfigured user security setting. This included secret keys and credentials, including cloud storage and Slack tokens. The compiled apps and pre-release apps were accessible, allowing Hussein to run the macOS and iOS apps against Clearview's services. While Ton-That called Hussein's disclosure of the bug extortion, Hussein reported the breach to Clearview but refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement necessary for the program. He also found 70,000 videos in one storage bucket from a Rudin Management apartment building's entrance.[27]

Mobile app[edit]

While Clearview's app is only supposed to be privately accessible to customers, Gizmodo found the Android application package in an unsecured Amazon S3 bucket. In addition to application tracking (Google Analytics, Crashlytics), it contains references to Google Play Services (Firebase or AppMeasurement), requests precise phone location data, and appeared to have features for voice search, sharing a free demo account to other users, augmented reality integration with Vuzix, and sending gallery photos or taking photos from the app itself. There were also references to scanning barcodes on a drivers license and to RealWear.[28]

TechCrunch found the application for Apple iOS devices in an unsecured S3 bucket. The instructions showed how to load an enterprise (developer) certificate so the app could be installed without being published on the App Store. Clearview's access was suspended, as it was against Apple's terms of service for developers.[29] This "effectively disables the app".[30]

Insight Camera[edit]

Buzzfeed discovered that Clearview also operates a secondary business, Insight Camera, which provides AI-enabled security cameras. It is targeted at "retail, banking and residential buildings". Two customers have used the technology, United Federation of Teachers and Rudin Management.[31][32]

Privacy lawsuits[edit]

In response to a class action lawsuit filed in Illinois for violating the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), in May 2020 Clearview stated that while they disagreed that they were subject to BIPA (as they are based in New York, not Illinois), they instituted a policy to stop working with non-government entities and to remove any photos geolocated in Illinois. In their May response Clearview stated they have "never experienced a data breach related to personal information". Clearview is represented by Jenner & Block for the case. The ACLU stated, "These promises do little to address concerns about Clearview's reckless and dangerous business model."[33][34][35][36]

On May 28, 2020, ACLU and Edelson sued Clearview in Illinois using the BIPA. Describing the lawsuit, ACLU said "it will end privacy as we know it if it isn't stopped", going on to state "Clearview has created the nightmare scenario that we've long feared, and has crossed the ethical bounds that many companies have refused to even attempt." Clearview's Tor Ekeland called it censorship, and stated "The First Amendment forbids this." In response, ACLU's Nathan Freed Wessler stated the First Amendment "does not shield Clearview's unlawful conducts.... Capturing a face print is conduct, not speech."[37][38][39][40][41][42]

Clearview is also being sued by the Attorney General of Vermont. Clearview's Tor Ekeland, who has stated his objection to Section 230, used it in defense of Clearview for this suit. Techdirt's Tim Cushing analyzed the arguments, stating "In essence, the lawsuit isn't about objectionable content hosted by Clearview, but objectionable actions by Clearview itself. That's why Section 230 doesn't apply. I'm not sure how the local court will read this, but it would seem readily apparent that Section 230 does not immunize Clearview in this case."[43]

Founders and notable associates[edit]

Clearview's investors include Peter Thiel, a noted "surveillance enthusiast" who invested $200,000 in its first round of funding,[44] Naval Ravikant,[2] and RIT Capital Partners.[45]

Hoan Ton-That worked as a software developer at AngelList[when?] prior to founding Clearview AI. Ton-That first gained public notice in 2009, when he created ViddyHo, a website that spammed users' contacts and was described as phishing or a computer worm.[16][46][47][48][49][50] Ton-That denied creating a phishing site and claimed a software bug was the cause.[51] He then created fastforwarded.com, a similar phishing site.[51] He also created an app called "Trump Hair", which placed Donald Trump's hair on photos.[1]

Richard Schwartz is a graduate of Columbia University and New York University, holding degrees in History and Public Policy. He began his career working for Henry Stern, when Stern was a member of the New York City Council. Schwartz continued working with Stern during Stern's tenure as New York City Parks Commissioner under New York City Mayor Ed Koch.[52] Schwartz heavily contributed to the 1980s New York City Parks restoration and continued public service under Mayor David Dinkins. He was appointed senior policy advisor to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the 1990s. Schwartz authored the Work Experience Program, a welfare reform program.[52] Schwartz founded Opportunity America, a job matching service for welfare recipients, one day after leaving public service in 1997. He served as Editorial Editor at the New York Daily News in the 2000s. Ton-That and Schwartz met at the Manhattan Institute.[53][1][54][55]

Clearview AI hired Paul Clement, a former Solicitor General and former acting United States Attorney General to help assuage privacy concerns.[1]

Clearview also hired Jessica Medeiros Garrison, a Republican operative who managed Luther Strange's Alabama Attorney General campaign, then became Chief Counsel and Deputy Attorney General the following year. She successfully sued blogger Roger Shuler for defamation related to her and Luther Strange.[1][56][57][58] In a court case involving campaign finance violations by Democratic Alabama state senator Lowell Barron, Barron's attorneys accused Strange of paying $350,000 to Garrison. Garrison was later the director of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) during a period where it was involved in sending dark money to Luther Strange, which was returned after the transaction was uncovered, having violated Alabama campaign finance law.[59] Garrison also worked for Balch & Bingham until May 2017. Balch & Bingham is a law firm closely associated with Jeff Sessions's political career and also one of his largest donors.[60]

Tor Ekeland has performed legal services for the company. Ekeland represented Andrew 'weev' Auernheimer, who is linked with Ton-That.[26]

"Committed racist" Tyler Bass began working for Smartcheckr in late 2017. Marko Jukic, also a WeSearcher Slack member, also worked for Clearview and was linked to Chuck Johnson in 2016.[12]

In late 2017, Clearview (then Smartcheckr) hired Douglass Mackey, creator of the Twitter persona "Ricky Vaughn," known for "far-right propaganda, racist tropes, and anti-Semitic cartoons." Mackey is also associated with alt-right white supremacist congressional candidate Paul Nehlen. Clearview claims to have had no knowledge of Mackey's persona, though Mackey was also part of the WeSearchr Slack under his fake name, and Chuck Johnson had spoken about being connected to Mackey. Bass described it as "Mackeygate" in an email to Katie McHugh. After Mackey's persona was revealed, Richard Schwartz used a reputation management company to obscure his involvement with Smartcheckr.[2][12][61]

Use[edit]

Customer list[edit]

Following a data leak of Clearview's customer list, Buzzfeed confirmed that 2,200 organizations in 27 countries have accounts with activity. Some may only have had trial access, and many organizations denied any connection to Clearview.[62]

American law enforcement and government
Commercial and other non-government entities
International law enforcement

Use by individuals[edit]

The New York Times described early use of Clearview's app as "a secret plaything of the rich", describing it as a perk given to potential investors in their Series A fundraising round. Billionare John Catsimatidis, a friend of Richard Schwartz, used it to identify someone his daughter dated to "make sure he wasn't a charlatan" and piloted it at one of his Gristedes grocery market in New York City to identify shoplifters. Investor Hal Lambert of Point Bridge Capital described having the app and showing it to friends. Investor David Scalzo, founder of Kirenaga Partners, said that his "school-aged daughters enjoyed playing with the app". Doug Leone, a potential investor at Sequoia Capital, was given access, which was revoked after Sequoia declined to invest. Actor and investor Ashton Kutcher described an app in September 2019 that was likely Clearview. After testing Clearview for accuracy, Nicholas Cassimatis was allowed to continue using the app and described demoing it to people "like a parlor trick".[81][82]

Noted far-right "troll king" Charles C. Johnson had an account on Clearview and used it. Mike Cernovich had tweeted a picture of Johnson and Ton-That dining together in 2016.[45]

Tor Ekeland, who provides legal services to Clearview, was listed as having an account.[45]

An account for Palmer Luckey, linked with Oculus Rift and Anduril Industries, ran over 20 searches.[45]

Contact tracing for the COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

On March 17, 2020, the Wall Street Journal stated that Clearview was pitching their technology to states for use in contact tracing to assist with the COVID-19 pandemic.[83][84] The Next Web said this effort gives Clearview "a chance to repair its reputation."[85]

Cybersecurity expert Josephine Wolff called out Clearview in a New York Times op-ed, "The United States government's engagement with the facial recognition company Clearview AI on coronavirus tracking is especially worrisome in this regard", and that "The company's product is still every bit as dangerous, invasive and unnecessary as it was before the spread of the coronavirus."[86] Internet Law professor Jonathan Zittrain called the coronavirus work "a savvy move, aimed at turning a rogue actor into a hero."[87]

The idea surfaced again in late April 2020 when Ton-That appeared on NBC News Now to pitch the idea. He said they have been in contact with federal and state authorities. Harvard Law School bioethics professor I. Glenn Cohen expressed concern, Fight for the Future's response was "Absolutely the fuck not", calling Clearview a "cartoonishly shady surveillance vendor". CPO Magazine called Clearview "a poster child for potential abuses and lack of transparency".[88][89][90][91][92] University of Chicago Law School professor Lior Strahilevitz said "When I hear about potential collaborations between the government and Clearview AI to use facial recognition I shudder... I think those are the kinds of tools where the benefits of using them are not zero, but the harms are really substantial".[93]

In response to the NBC segment and WSJ story, Senator Edward Markey wrote his third letter to the company with concerns, stating "this health crisis cannot justify using unreliable surveillance tools that could undermine our privacy rights." Markey asked a series of questions about what government entities Clearview has been talking with, in addition to unanswered privacy concerns.[66]

Reception[edit]

Clearview operated in near secrecy until the release of The New York Times exposé titled "The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It" in January 2020.[1] Citing the article, over 40 tech and civil rights organizations including Color of Change, Council on American–Islamic Relations, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Electronic Privacy Information Center, Fight for the Future, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Media Alliance, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Hispanic Media Coalition, National LGBTQ Task Force, Project On Government Oversight, Restore the Fourth, and the Woodhull Freedom Foundation sent a letter to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) and four congressional committees, outlining their concerns with facial recognition and Clearview, asking the PCLOB to suspend the use of facial recognition.[94][95][96][97]

Clearview has been described in the press as "sketchy",[16] "creepy",[98] "the world's scariest facial recognition company",[99] an "Olympic-caliber web scraper",[100] and as the company "that might end privacy as we know it".[1] Cory Doctorow called it "a creepy, grifty, privacy-invading toolsmith serving authoritarians", also pointing out the unreliability of its marketing.[101]

It sparked a global debate on the regulation of facial recognition technology by governments and law enforcement.[102] Numerous international media outlets called for a ban of the Clearview's software upon learning that 3 billion images had been collected from social media websites should the images have ever been public. Law enforcement officers have stated that Clearview's facial recognition is far superior in identifying perpetrators for any angle than previously used technology.[103][104][105]

After discovering Clearview AI was scraping images from their site, Twitter sent a cease-and-desist letter, insisting that they remove all images as it is against Twitter's policies.[106][107] Facebook has said they are reviewing the situation, and Venmo also stated it is against their policies.[107][108][109] On February 5 and 6 2020, Google, Youtube, Facebook, and Venmo sent cease and desist letters as it is against their policies. Ton-That responded in an interview with Errol Barnett of CBS This Morning that there's a first amendment right to the information, results were 99.6% accurate, and they have 3 billion scraped images.[110][111]

The company's claim of a First Amendment right to public information has been disputed by privacy lawyers such as Scott Skinner-Thompson and Margot Kaminski, writing in Slate that Clearview's position was a "simplistic argument", that the "First Amendment is often weaponized to undermine our privacy interests", highlighting the problems and precedents surrounding persistent surveillance and anonymity.[6][112]

Senator Edward J. Markey wrote Clearview and Ton-That, stating "Widespread use of your technology could facilitate dangerous behavior and could effectively destroy individuals' ability to go about their daily lives anonymously." Markey asked Clearview to detail aspects of its business to understand these privacy, bias, and security concerns.[107][113] Clearview responded through an attorney, declining to reveal information.[114] In response to this, Markey wrote a second letter, calling their response unacceptable and containing "dubious claims", highlighting the concern of Clearview "selling its technology to authoritarian regimes" and possible violations of COPPA.[115][116][117]

Senator Ron Wyden tweeted about Clearview, saying it "reads like one of the more disturbing episodes of Black Mirror". Wyden also voiced concerns about Clearview's efforts to "tamp down questions from journalists".[118][119] Meetings between Wyden and Ton-That have been set up, with Ton-That cancelling on Wyden three times.[115]

Josh Orton, a spokesperson for the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign, stated "This is disgusting. A Sanders administration will ban facial recognition software in law enforcement, period."[120]

Former New York City Police Commissioner and executive chairman of Teneo Risk Chief Bill Bratton challenged privacy concerns and recommended strong procedures for law enforcement usage in an op-ed in New York Daily News.[121]

In April 2020 an editorial by Rafael A. Calvo, Sebastian Deterding, and Richard M. Ryan was published in The BMJ discussing "Health surveillance during covid-19 pandemic". The authors noted Clearview and also discussed "surveillance creep".[122]

Internet Law professor Jonathan Zittrain stated "The company's services don't represent a technological breakthrough as much as norm-shattering daring. Clearview simply added water to a recipe that no one else thought advisable to make, using existing ingredients."[87]

The AI Now Institute linked Clearview with the Banjo surveillance platform, as both have far-right ties, though Banjo doesn't have the explicit far-right algorithmic goals of Clearview does. Other historic Silicon Valley links to far-right ideology mentioned include Jeffrey Epstein, William Shockley, and James Damore.[123]

The New Zealand Police used it in a trial after being approached by Clearview's Marko Jukic in January 2020. Jukic said it would have helped identify the Christchurch mosque shooter had the technology been available. During the police's trial they searched for people "of Māori or Polynesian ethnicity", as well as "Irish roof contractors" to determine its bias and accuracy. This raised strong objections once exposed, as neither the users' supervisors or the Privacy Commissioner were aware or approved of its use. After it was revealed by RNZ, Justice Minister Andrew Little stated "I don't know how it came to be that a person thought that this was a good idea", going on to say "It clearly wasn't endorsed, from the senior police hierarchy, and it clearly didn't get the endorsement from the [Police] Minister nor indeed from the wider cabinet ... that is a matter of concern."[80][124][125]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Hill, Kashmir (2020-01-18). "The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  2. ^ a b c d "Clearview AI Says Its Facial Recognition Software Identified A Terrorism Suspect. The Cops Say That's Not True". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 23 January 2020. As it signed deals, Clearview continued to misrepresent its relationship with the NYPD. It used images of the suspect from the Brooklyn bar beating in an October email sent through CrimeDex, a crime alert listserv used by police across the nation. In that email, which BuzzFeed News obtained via a public records request to the Bradenton, Florida, police department, a random man whose image was taken from an Argentine LinkedIn page is identified as a "possible match." His name, however, does not match the name of the person who turned himself in to the NYPD.
  3. ^ "Law enforcement is using a facial recognition app with huge privacy issues". Engadget. Retrieved 2020-01-21.
  4. ^ O'Brien, Luke. "The Far-Right Helped Create The World's Most Powerful Facial Recognition Technology". Huffington Post Australia. Retrieved 2020-05-27.
  5. ^ "Twitter demands AI company stops 'collecting faces'". BBC News. 2020-01-23. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  6. ^ a b Ng, Alfred. "Clearview AI hit with cease-and-desist from Google, Facebook over facial recognition collection". CNET. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  7. ^ Facial Recognition Companies Commit to Police Market After Amazon, Microsoft Exit
  8. ^ Hill, Kashmir; Dance, Gabriel J. X. (2020-02-07). "Clearview's Facial Recognition App Is Identifying Child Victims of Abuse". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  9. ^ "Google tells facial recognition startup Clearview AI to stop scraping photos". Engadget. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  10. ^ Smith, Thomas (23 March 2020). "I Got My File From Clearview AI, and It Freaked Me Out". OneZero. Retrieved 24 March 2020. To the company's credit, Clearview's system is not just a privacy pariah. It's also a breakthrough technology for investigating abhorrent crimes like child sexual abuse. As the Times reports, in one case Clearview helped to catch an alleged predator based on a reflected face in an unrelated photo posted at a gym. It's also a powerful tool for solving long-abandoned murders, and all manner of other cold cases.
  11. ^ "Clearview's Facial Recognition App Has Been Used By The Justice Department, ICE, Macy's, Walmart, And The NBA". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2020-02-28.
  12. ^ a b c Luke O'Brien (7 April 2020). "Far-Right Extremists Helped Create The World's Most Powerful Facial Recognition Technology". HuffPost. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Facial recognition: The other reason we may need a face mask". TheHill. Retrieved 17 May 2020. Elias Aboujaoude
  14. ^ "How NYPD's facial recognition software ID'ed subway rice cooker kook". New York Post. Retrieved 2020-01-25.
  15. ^ a b "New Jersey Bars Police From Using Clearview Facial Recognition App". nytimes.com. Retrieved 26 January 2020. We've received the attorney general's letter and are complying," said Tor Ekeland, Clearview's lawyer. "The video has been removed.
  16. ^ a b c "Rogue NYPD cops are using facial recognition app Clearview". New York Post. Retrieved 26 January 2020. Rogue NYPD officers are using a sketchy facial recognition software on their personal phones that the department's own facial recognition unit doesn't want to touch because of concerns about security and potential for abuse, The Post has learned.
  17. ^ "New Jersey cops told to halt all use of controversial facial-recognition technology". nj. Retrieved 26 January 2020. Tor Ekeland, a Clearview lawyer, wrote in an email that they would take the video down, and it was no longer at the top of the company's website Friday evening.
  18. ^ "Cease and Desist" (PDF). int.nyt.com. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  19. ^ "G2E: New generation of facial recognition enhances security, raises questions - CDC Gaming Reports". CDC Gaming Reports. Retrieved 8 February 2020. Sattar spoke Thursday at a G2E panel discussion on "Customer Identification Using Facial Recognition Technology: The Future is Now." Also on the panel were Jessica Medeiros Garrison, president of MDM27 Holdings, whose company Clearview offers facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies
  20. ^ "Clearview AI Wants To Sell Its Facial Recognition Software To Authoritarian Regimes Around The World". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  21. ^ "The ACLU Called Clearview AI's Facial Recognition Accuracy Study "Absurd"". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  22. ^ (BuzzFeed), Caroline Haskins. "Clearveiw Ai Accuracy Test Oct 2019". documentcloud.org. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  23. ^ Snow, Jacob (10 February 2020). "Hey Clearview, Your Misleading PR Campaign Doesn't Make Your Face Surveillance Product Any Less Dystopian". ACLU. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  24. ^ "ACLU rejects Clearview AI's facial recognition accuracy claims". Engadget. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  25. ^ Cox, Kate (2020-02-26). "Secretive face-matching startup has customer list stolen". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  26. ^ a b Swan, Betsy (2020-02-26). "Facial-Recognition Company That Works With Law Enforcement Says Entire Client List Was Stolen". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2020-02-26.
  27. ^ Zach Whittaker (16 April 2020). "Security lapse exposed Clearview AI source code – TechCrunch". TechCrunch. Retrieved 19 April 2020. Ton-That accused the research firm of extortion, but emails between Clearview and SpiderSilk paint a different picture.
  28. ^ "We Found Clearview AI's Shady Face Recognition App". Gizmodo. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  29. ^ "Apple has blocked Clearview AI's iPhone app for violating its rules – TechCrunch". TechCrunch. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  30. ^ "Apple Just Disabled Clearview AI's iPhone App For Breaking Its Rules On Distribution". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  31. ^ "The Facial Recognition Company That Scraped Facebook And Instagram Photos Is Developing Surveillance Cameras". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 2 March 2020. United Federation of Teachers (UFT) and New York City real estate firm Rudin Management
  32. ^ "Insight Camera". Archived from the original on 14 February 2020.
  33. ^ "Clearview AI Says Facial Photo Data Scrape Claim Is Moot - Law360". law360.com. Retrieved 8 May 2020. The New York-based company says it's not subject to the BIPA because the alleged wrongful conduct occurred primarily and substantially in New York, not Illinois. It says it is voluntarily changing its business practices "to avoid including data from Illinois residents and to avoid transacting with non-governmental customers anywhere." "Specifically, Clearview is canceling the accounts of every customer who was not either associated with law enforcement or some other federal, state, or local government department, office, or agency," the company said. "Clearview is also canceling all accounts belonging to any entity based in Illinois. All photos in Clearview's database that were geolocated in Illinois have been blocked from being searched through Clearview's app."
  34. ^ "Case: 1:20-cv-00512 Document #: 56 Filed: 05/06/20 Page 1 of 18 PageID #:466". law360.com. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Clearview AI Says It Will No Longer Provide Facial Recognition To Private Companies". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  36. ^ "Clearview AI to stop selling controversial facial recognition app to private companies". The Verge. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  37. ^ Nick Statt (28 May 2020). "ACLU sues facial recognition firm Clearview AI, calling it a 'nightmare scenario' for privacy". The Verge. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  38. ^ "ACLU V. CLEARVIEW AI — COMPLAINT". ACLU. 28 May 2020. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  39. ^ "ACLU SUES CLEARVIEW AI". ACLU. 28 May 2020. Retrieved 29 May 2020. The lawsuit was filed in Illinois state court on behalf of the ACLU, the ACLU of Illinois, the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, the Sex Workers Outreach Project, the Illinois State Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), and Mujeres Latinas en Acción. The groups argue that Clearview AI violated — and continues to violate — the privacy rights of Illinois residents under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
  40. ^ Davey Alba (28 May 2020). "A.C.L.U. Accuses Clearview AI of Privacy 'Nightmare Scenario'". nytimes.com. Retrieved 29 May 2020. Clearview AI is a search engine that uses only publicly available images accessible on the internet," Tor Ekeland, a lawyer for Clearview, said in a statement. "It is absurd that the A.C.L.U. wants to censor which search engines people can use to access public information on the internet. The First Amendment forbids this. "Mr. Wessler of the A.C.L.U. said the First Amendment "does not shield Clearview's unlawful conducts." "Our lawsuit does not challenge Clearview's scraping of images off of social media platforms," he said. "It challenges the secret, nonconsensual and unlawful capture of individuals' biometric identifiers from those images. Capturing a face print is conduct, not speech.
  41. ^ Claire Duffy (28 May 2020). "The ACLU sues Clearview AI, calling the tool an 'unprecedented violation' of privacy rights". kitv.com. Retrieved 29 May 2020. Clearview AI is a search engine that uses only publicly available images accessible on the internet," Clearview AI's attorney, Tor Ekeland, told CNN Business in an emailed statement. "It is absurd that the ACLU wants to censor which search engines people can use to access public information on the internet. The First Amendment forbids this.
  42. ^ Thomas Germain (29 May 2020). "Why Illinois Has Become a Battleground for Facial Recognition Protection - Consumer Reports". consumerreports.org. Retrieved 29 May 2020. BIPA's been a very effective statute—because there's private enforcement, we don't have to wait for an attorney general or other public official to stop violations like Clearview," said Justin Brookman, CR's director of privacy and technology policy. "We don't have a lot of privacy law in this country, but the history of those laws shows that public enforcers move too slowly to keep up with the advances in technology.
  43. ^ Tim Cushing (1 June 2020). "Clearview Says Section 230 Immunizes It From Vermont's Lawsuit Over Alleged Privacy Violations". Techdirt. Retrieved 2 June 2020.
  44. ^ Mak, Aaron (2020-02-07). "Clearview's Terrifying Facial Recognition Can't Go Back in the Bottle". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  45. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Clearview AI Handed Its Facial Recognition App To A Former Trump Staffer, A Troll, And Conservative Think Tanks". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 11 March 2020. Later that evening, James received a friend request. It was from the bearded man on the plane — Charles C. Johnson, a controversial right-wing activist and accused Holocaust denier with ties to the Trump administration. Johnson did not respond to multiple requests for comment. { "id": 124311575 }
  46. ^ "The person behind a privacy nightmare has a familiar face". SFChronicle.com. Retrieved 23 January 2020. I wrote about Ton-That in February 2009 ("scathingly," Hill writes), when he was living in San Francisco, developing first Facebook and then iPhone apps. He made the news for creating ViddyHo, a website that tricked users into sharing access to their Gmail accounts — a hacking technique known as "phishing" — and then spammed their contacts on the Google Talk chat app. (The episode does not appear on Ton-That's sanitized personal website.)
  47. ^ "Phishing Attacks Increase After Gmail Outage". Redorbit. Retrieved 23 January 2020. San Francisco police are searching for a man who reportedly registered the ViddyHo domain under the name Cam-Hoan Ton-That.
  48. ^ Snyder, Gabriel. "ViddyHo Worm Sweeping Through IM". Gawker. Retrieved 23 January 2020. Here's a bit of a public service announcement: If someone asks you over IM to "Hey check out this video!" they foolishly fell for the just-breaking ViddyHo virus. Don't follow them.
  49. ^ Thomas, Owen. "Was an 'Anarcho-Transexual Afro-Chicano' Behind the IM Worm?". Gawker. Retrieved 23 January 2020. Ton-That frequently posted on Twitter about going to Sugarlump, an overwroughtly hip San Francisco "coffee lounge" in a rough-hewn but gentrifying corner of the Mission District, the preferred neighborhood of twentysomething Web developers. HappyAppy's office address is listed as 25 Stillman Street, a classically South of Market location for a startup. (In fact, it was once the home of Socializr, Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams's current company.)
  50. ^ "Internet Worm Linked to San Francisco Man | News | The Harvard Crimson". thecrimson.com. Retrieved 23 January 2020. The site Venture Hacks lists Hoan Ton-That as the sole member of HappyAppy Inc, a relationship that was confirmed by Hoan's lawyer, Andre Gharakhanian of Silicon Legal Strategy.
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  54. ^ "The Welfare Estate". City Limits. 1 June 1999. Retrieved 23 January 2020. Then, on February 11, 1997, at age 38, Richard Schwartz announced he was leaving city government. The next day, he founded Opportunity America. His specialty would be corporate matchmaker, the missing link to help private-sector companies hire welfare recipients. But he promised in The New York Times that he wouldn't take advantage of his government experience to win consulting contracts with New York City.
  55. ^ "Richard Schwartz - Technology and Policy - NYC". Richard Schwartz - Technology and Policy - NYC. Retrieved 5 May 2020. From 2001 to 2005, he served as Editorial Page Editor and Opinion Columnist at the New York Daily News, where he won the Silurian and Deadline Awards and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.
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  62. ^ a b "Clearview's Facial Recognition App Has Been Used By The Justice Department, ICE, Macy's, Walmart, And The NBA". 27 February 2020. Retrieved 27 February 2020. A BuzzFeed News review of Clearview AI documents has revealed the company is working with more than 2,200 law enforcement agencies, companies, and individuals around the world.
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  65. ^ a b c "Fort Worth, Irving And Plano Police Using Controversial Facial Recognition App On 'Trial Basis'". dfw.cbslocal.com. Retrieved 11 March 2020. Fort Worth, Irving and Plano police departments have used the Clearview AI's new app since the start of the year on what the departments describe as a "trial basis."
  66. ^ a b c d e "A US Senator Wants To Know Which Federal Authorities Are Using Clearview AI To Track The Coronavirus". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  67. ^ a b c d "Clearview AI Created Accounts For The Offices Of Four Republican Congressmen Including Trump's Nominee For Director Of National Intelligence". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved 29 February 2020. Some of those connections were to elected officials. Clearview's data lists offices and teams of Republican Reps. Mark Walker, Mike Rogers, and Lee Zeldin as having accounts, though Walker's office is the only one listed as running searches with the facial recognition technology. One user registered to the office made more than 10 searches, with the last search listed as being conducted in January of this year.
  68. ^ Barbaschow, Asha (15 Apr 2020). "AFP used Clearview AI facial recognition software to counter child exploitation". ZDNet. Retrieved 15 Apr 2020.
  69. ^ a b c "RCMP used Clearview AI facial recognition tool in 15 child exploitation cases, helped rescue 2 kids". Global News. Retrieved 10 March 2020. The RCMP confirmed Thursday that the police force has been using the controversial facial recognition technology Clearview AI for roughly four months as part of online child sexual exploitation investigations and resulted in the rescue of two children.
  70. ^ "Clearview AI: When can companies use facial recognition data?". Global News. Retrieved 10 March 2020. On Sunday, the Ontario Provincial Police admitted to previously using Clearview AI, a New York City based facial recognition software company which scrapes billions of images off both public and social media websites.
  71. ^ "OPP confirms past use of controversial Clearview AI technology". Global News. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
  72. ^ "Reviews launched after 3 Edmonton police officers use Clearview AI facial recognition software". Global News. Retrieved 10 March 2020. A review is being done after three Edmonton Police Service officers used a new cutting edge facial recognition software before the technology has been approved by the department.
  73. ^ "Halifax police confirm use of controversial Clearview AI facial recognition technology". Global News. Retrieved 10 March 2020. After multiple denials to Global News, Halifax Regional Police confirmed on Friday that their officers have been using Clearview AI, the controversial facial recognition software now being investigated by Canada's privacy commissioner.
  74. ^ a b c d "Hamilton police have tried controversial facial recognition app Clearview AI, says deputy chief". Global News. Retrieved 10 March 2020.
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  76. ^ "London police clear up use of controversial Clearview AI facial recognition technology". 980 CFPL. Retrieved 10 March 2020. "Initial checks revealed that we were not using Clearview. That was wrong," Williams said, adding that after police had a published a statement denying the force's use of the software, a followup investigation revealed otherwise.
  77. ^ Sawyer Bogdan (21 May 2020). "London police Clearview AI review reveals 7 officers accessed the facial recognition technology". Global News. Retrieved 23 May 2020. At the London Police Services Board (LPSB) meeting on Thursday, London police Chief Stephen Williams revealed that seven officers accessed the software, with one of those officers using it in an investigation."Some of the members were made aware of the Clearview technology at a training seminar in November 2019, and it all surfaced at other training courses and other seminars," Williams said.
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  80. ^ a b "Police trial of facial recognition technology 'a matter of concern' - Andrew Little". RNZ. 13 May 2020. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  81. ^ "NYT: Billionaire with ties to St. Petersburg tested facial recognition app". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  82. ^ "Before Clearview Became a Police Tool, It Was a Secret Plaything of the Rich". nytimes.com. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  83. ^ Grind, Kirsten; McMillan, Robert; Mathews, Anna Wilde (17 March 2020). "To Track Virus, Governments Weigh Surveillance Tools That Push Privacy Limits". WSJ. Retrieved 26 March 2020. Clearview A.I. Inc., a facial-recognition startup that has sparked controversy among privacy advocates over its use by police departments, is in discussions with state agencies about using its technology to track patients infected by the coronavirus, according to people familiar with the matter. The technology has yet to be adopted by any agency, but the New York-based company hopes it will be helpful in what's known as "contact tracing"—figuring out who else might have been with a person known to have the virus.
  84. ^ Ng, Alfred (25 March 2020). "Governments could track COVID-19 lockdowns through social media posts". CNet.
  85. ^ Macaulay, Thomas. "Snowden warns: The surveillance states we're creating now will outlast the coronavirus". Neural | The Next Web. Retrieved 26 March 2020. The coronavirus has even given Clearview AI a chance to repair its reputation. The controversial social media-scraping startup is in talks with governments about using its tech to track infected patients, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  86. ^ Josephine Wolff (25 March 2020). "Opinion | How to (Carefully) Use Tech to Contain the Coronavirus". nytimes.com. Retrieved 26 March 2020. The United States government's engagement with the facial recognition company Clearview AI on coronavirus tracking is especially worrisome in this regard. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Clearview AI had drawn heavy criticism for scraping photographs from websites such as Facebook and YouTube and then selling their facial recognition tools to law enforcement agencies and individuals. The company's product is still every bit as dangerous, invasive and unnecessary as it was before the spread of the coronavirus.
  87. ^ a b Jonathan Zittrain (14 April 2020). "Perspective | A start-up is using photos to ID you. Big tech can stop it from happening again". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 April 2020. The company's services don't represent a technological breakthrough as much as norm-shattering daring. Clearview simply added water to a recipe that no one else thought advisable to make, using existing ingredients.
  88. ^ Future, Fight for the. "Fight for the Future, defending our basic rights and freedoms". Fight for the Future. Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  89. ^ "Breach of Clearview AI Source Code Renews Concerns About Law Enforcement Facial Recognition Programs". CPO Magazine. Retrieved 30 April 2020. Clearview AI has been one of the central points of contention, becoming something of a poster child for potential abuses and lack of transparency in such programs. The embattled facial recognition startup's road is becoming no easier as an exposed server has been found that contained the source code for the company's facial recognition database along with confidential keys and credentials that would grant a disturbing level of access to the company's internal network.
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  93. ^ writer, Christian Belanger Staff (12 May 2020). "At virtual Booth roundtable, participants warn against hasty embrace of surveillance technology during pandemic". Hyde Park Herald. Retrieved 13 May 2020. Strahilevitz, for his part, alluded to recent news reports that the facial recognition company Clearview AI has offered to help federal and state governments with contract tracing during the pandemic. "When I hear about potential collaborations between the government and Clearview AI to use facial recognition I shudder," he said. "Those kinds of tools are gonna so alarm the public. I think those are the kinds of tools where the benefits of using them are not zero, but the harms are really substantial -- I don't think the government should be employing those kinds of tools."
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  95. ^ "Backlash grows against Clearview as lawsuit looms". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 27 January 2020. On Monday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and more than 35 other organizations including Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Color of Change, and Free Press Action, sent a letter to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent agency in the executive branch, recommending the suspension of facial recognition systems in the federal government, citing Clearview AI's relationship with law enforcement.
  96. ^ "U.S. Board Should Seek Facial Recognition Halt, Groups Say (1)". news.bloomberglaw.com. Retrieved 27 January 2020. "Obvious problems with bias and discrimination in the systems" show the need for a moratorium, 40 organizations wrote in a letter to the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
  97. ^ "Government privacy watchdog under pressure to recommend facial recognition ban". TheHill. Retrieved 27 January 2020. The letter cited a recent New York Times report about Clearview AI, a company which claims to have a database of more than 3 billion photos and is reportedly collaborating with hundreds of police departments.
  98. ^ Morse, Jack (24 January 2020). "New Jersey halts police use of creepy Clearview AI facial-recognition app". Mashable. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
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  101. ^ "The answer to the Clearview AI scandal is better privacy laws, not anti-scraping laws". Boing Boing. Retrieved 26 January 2020. Nevertheless, Clearview is a creepy, grifty, privacy-invading toolsmith serving authoritarians, getting rich by covertly supplying its overhyped tools, and, unsurprisingly, lots of people (including me) want structural changes to make Clearview cut it out and prevent future Clearviews from emerging.
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  106. ^ "Controversial facial recognition firm Clearview AI facing legal claims after damning NYT report". The Verge. Retrieved 26 January 2020. Clearview is also facing challenges from platforms in the wake of the NYT report. Twitter has sent Clearview a cease-and-desist letter demanding that the company stop scraping its platform for photos to include in its database. Twitter also demanded the company delete any existing data it may have obtained from the platform because using it to fill out a third-party database without user consent is against Twitter's policies. Clearview has acknowledged publicly that it built out its database in part by scraping social media profiles.
  107. ^ a b c "Twitter Tells Facial Recognition Trailblazer to Stop Using Site's Photos". nytimes.com. Retrieved 26 January 2020. Twitter sent a letter this week to the small start-up company, Clearview AI, demanding that it stop taking photos and any other data from the social media website "for any reason" and delete any data that it previously collected, a Twitter spokeswoman said. The cease-and-desist letter, sent on Tuesday, accused Clearview of violating Twitter's policies.
  108. ^ "Twitter demands AI company stops 'collecting faces'". BBC News. 23 January 2020.
  109. ^ Matsakis, Louise. "Scraping the Web Is a Powerful Tool. Clearview AI Abused It". Wired. Retrieved 26 January 2020. Automated scraping violates the policies of sites like Facebook and Twitter, the latter of which specifically prohibits scraping to build facial recognition databases. Twitter sent a letter to Clearview this week asking it to stop pilfering data from the site "for any reason," and Facebook is also reportedly examining the matter, according to the Times. But it's unclear whether they have any legal recourse in the current system.
  110. ^ Errol Barnett. "Google, YouTube and Venmo send cease-and-desist letters to facial recognition app that helps law enforcement". cbsnews.com. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  111. ^ Igor Bonifacic (5 February 2020). "Google tells facial recognition startup Clearview AI to stop scraping photos". Engadget. Retrieved 6 February 2020. Following Twitter, Google and YouTube have become the latest companies to send a cease-and-desist letter to Clearview AI, the startup behind a controversial facial recognition program that more than 600 police departments across North American use. Clearview came under scrutiny earlier this year when The New York Times showed that the company had been scraping billions of images on the internet to build its database of faces. Google has demanded Clearview stop scraping YouTube videos for its database, as well as delete any photos it has already collected.
  112. ^ Kaminski, Margot E.; Skinner-Thompson, Scott. "Free Speech Isn't a Free Pass for Privacy Violations". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 11 March 2020. Even more brazenly, Hoan Ton-That, the CEO of Clearview AI, a company that sells the use of its facial recognition software to law enforcement, recently claimed that the First Amendment gives the company the right to scrape face photographs on public social media platforms. This claim not only ignores valid concerns about facial recognition technologies—their tendency toward discrimination, their use in pervasive location-tracking, including of activists or dissidents—but also gets the First Amendment wrong.
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  118. ^ @RonWyden (2020-01-19). "This story reads like one of the more disturbing episodes of Black Mirror. Americans have a right to know whether their personal photos are secretly being sucked into a private facial recognition database" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  119. ^ @RonWyden (2020-01-19). "It's extremely troubling that this company may have monitored usage specifically to tamp down questions from journalists about the legality of their app. Everyday we witness a growing need for strong federal laws to protect Americans' privacy" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  120. ^ @joshorton (2020-01-18). "This is disgusting. A Sanders administration will ban facial recognition software in law enforcement, period" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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  124. ^ "Police trialled facial recognition tech without clearance". RNZ. Retrieved 13 May 2020. "Clearview can be used for counter-terrorism to quickly and accurately identify suspects and build up investigations using public information," employee Marko Jukic told police in a 31 January email. The company reportedly later fired Jukic after it emerged he published controversial views online.
  125. ^ "Police searched for suspects in unapproved trial of facial recognition tech, Clearview AI". RNZ. Retrieved 15 May 2020. Official emails released to RNZ show how police first used the technology: by submitting images of wanted people who police say looked "to be of Māori or Polynesian ethnicity", as well as "Irish roof contractors".

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