Contentious facial recognition startup Clearview AI is in the news once again after financial documents filed this week reveal the firm recently raised $8.6 million in a fundraising round.
Though Clearview did not disclose any of the donors, CEO Hoan Ton-That did issue a statement to BuzzFeed News, saying that his company is “gratified by the ongoing support from our wide range of diverse investors who are committed to Clearview AI and its mission to help law enforcement solve crimes.”
Clearview AI found itself under global scrutiny following a New York Times front page story that revealed the New York-based firm had scraped billions of images off of sites like Google, YouTube and Twitter, and used them as the basis for its facial recognition tool offered to law enforcement agencies across North America.
The months that followed saw Clearview make headlines several more times for a number of reasons, including a security breach that exposed its client list (and subsequently revealed that it was larger and more varied than the company had initially claimed), a number of lawsuits including a class-action BIPA suit, and investigations from privacy watchdogs from around the world.
Last month, in a move keeping in step with its controversial history thus far, Clearview signed a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for $224,000, which is its largest contract to date.
The recent filing brings Clearview’s total known funding up to roughly $17 million, a number that can be considered low for such a high-profile company in a biometrics market sector that is currently booming.
The document did, however, reveal the names of two previously unidentified members of Clearview’s Board of Directors: Murtaza Akbar of Liberty City Ventures in New York, and Hal Lambert, the founder of Point Bridge Capital and former campaign fundraiser for a number of high-profile Republicans including Ted Cruz and Rick Perry.
In a March New York Times story, Lambert told the paper that he had personal access to Clearview’s app — something the company had initially said was only reserved for law enforcement officials — and that he had demonstrated it to some of his friends. Lambert’s Point Bridge is known to have created an exchange-traded fund called MAGA ETF, which is comprised of 150 companies that “are highly supportive of Republican candidates.”
Source: BuzzFeed News
September 28, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis