Clearview AI fined €8.85m in UK

After the condemnation of Italy, around the UK to sanction Clearview AI. The American start-up, which presents itself as a supplier of facial recognition technology for law enforcement, is sentenced to a fine of 7.5 million pounds sterling (8.85 million euros). A fine pronounced on May 23, 2022 which is accompanied by an obligation to delete data concerning the British.

Data deletion

This fine is ultimately lower than the amount initially envisaged. Last November the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the equivalent of the National Commission for Computing and Liberties (CNIL) in the United Kingdom, wanted to impose a fine of over £17 million (about 19.9 million euros) to the facial recognition specialist. Beyond the fine, the ICO is asking Clearview AI to remove data about UK residents from its systems and to stop collecting and using personal data of UK residents that is available on the internet.

This decision follows a joint investigation with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) ​​which focuses on the use of images of people, the collection of data freely available on the Internet (so-called scraping) and the use biometric data for facial recognition. “Working with colleagues around the world helped us make this decision and protect people from such intrusive activity, explained John Edwards, Information Commissioner in the United Kingdom. This international cooperation is essential to protect privacy rights in 2022.”

Over 20 billion faces

Clearview AI has collected over 20 billion faces as well as data available from the internet and various social networks. At no time are people informed of this collection of personal data which is then used to feed its facial recognition tool which is marketed as a service. The American start-up notably markets its technology to law enforcement agencies, who can upload a person’s image to the application to see if there is a match with the database. A list of matching photos is presented along with links to the sites where they were found.

While Clearview AI no longer offers its services in the UK, the company has customers in other countries and uses the personal data of UK residents. The US start-up failed to use UK residents’ information in a fair and transparent manner as individuals were not informed of this use and could not reasonably expect their personal data is used in this way, writes the ICO. And the collection of this data is not based on any legal basis.

ICO condemns Clearview AI for using images of UK residents. The Clearview AI database must contain “a substantial number” information on British residents due to the use of the Internet and social networks made in the country, comments the ICO. The British policeman adds that the start-up has not put in place a mechanism to limit the retention of data.

Clearview AI under fire from critics

This is not the first condemnation of Clearview AI which has been heavily criticized in recent years. After a survey by Buzzfeed News listing private company clients of Clearview AI, the start-up announced that it would stop marketing its solution to private companies and focus on law enforcement.

More recently, the Italian Cnil fined Clearview AI €20 million for unlawfully collecting and processing the personal data of Italians without a legal basis, as required by the GDPR. The French Cnil has given formal notice the start-up last December to cease the collection and use of public photos and videos sucked from the Internet to feed its technology. The Swedish gendarme condemned the police for using this technology.

But the numerous investigations of which she is the subject do not seem to worry her. She raised $30 million last year and wants to expand its database and offer new use cases.

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Clearview AI fined €8.85m in UK

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