Controversial Facial Recognition startup Clearview AI has shed some light on a recent statement by CEO Hoan Ton-That which implied that Canadians are able to opt out of the company’s biometric data and facial recognition search engine, but provided no actual instructions on how to do so.
The company posted a link on its website that instructs any Canadians who wish to opt out of its database to provide a photograph of themselves in order to complete the process, claiming, “To find any Clearview search results that pertain to you (if any), we cannot search by name or any method other than image — so we need an image of you.”
It’s been a dramatic year for the New York-based startup, which came under global scrutiny following a January New York Times front page story that revealed it had scraped billions of images off of sites like Google, YouTube, and Twitter, and used them as the basis for its facial recognition algorithm, which it was selling to law enforcement agencies across North America.
In the months that followed, Clearview has made headlines several more times for a variety of reasons, including a security breach that revealed its client list was larger and more varied than it was initially believed to be — including both private individuals and major retailers — as well as a number of lawsuits , and the recent launches of several investigations by privacy watchdogs from around the world, including investigations in Canada which directly led to the cancellation of Clearview’s operations in the country and the decision to allow residents to opt out.
According to Ton-That, the photo provided will undergo a de-identification process and will not appear in search results.
“Deidentification means that Clearview AI retains only a numerical hash of a photo for the sole purpose of removing persons in that photo from search results and preventing further collection,” Ton-That told CBC News in an email.
Days following the launch of Canada’s investigation into the company, Australia and the U.K. announced a joint investigation, though there is still no indication that Clearview plans on cancelling its services in those countries and offering residents the same opt-out clause that it offers Canadians.
July 13, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis