New facts about Clearview AI have revealed the company has been harvesting images from major social media platforms for their work with police agencies. Making matters worse, the company admitted that an intruder gained “unauthorized access” to its entire list of customers. Now big platforms like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Venmo are demanding that the facial recognition company stop scraping user images to identify the people in them.
“Security is Clearview’s top priority,” Tor Ekeland, an attorney working for Clearview, said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “Unfortunately, data breaches are part of life in the 21st century. Our servers were never accessed. We patched the flaw, and continue to work to strengthen our security.”
The hacker was able to access Clearview’s clients, which include police, law enforcement agencies and banks. The company claims to have scraped more than 3 billion photos from the internet for clients, all using images uploaded to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Clearview AI Facts: Who Is Speaking Up?
Facebook (which also owns Instagram) is demanding Clearview AI stop accessing and using their users’ information. But they’re not alone. The list of social media platforms going against Clearview AI includes Venmo, YouTube (owned by Google), and LinkedIn.
Now, Apple is also joining the fight. They’ve suspended Clearview AI from their developer program, claiming that the company violates its policies. The terms are specific to its Developer Enterprise Program, which allows companies to use and distribute apps internally.
CNN reported on Clearview’s CEO Hoan Ton-That’s response, where he stated, “The app cannot be used without a valid Clearview account. A user can download the app, but not perform any searches without proper authorization and credentials.”
Is This Illegal?
Ton-That told CBS that its practices are protected by the First Amendment, which protects the company’s right to the approximate 3 billion images it’s already collected.
“The way we have built our system is to only take publicly available information and index it that way,” he told CBS. Their technology is helping law enforcement identify criminals.
In another interview with CNN Business, he dismissed concerns about the problems with Clearview AI and privacy. He emphasized that he “wouldn’t sell his product to Iran, Russia or China and claimed the technology is saving kids and solved crimes.”
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