Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That has confirmed that his company is indeed looking to expand to the private sector. The company has done business with private companies in the past, but suspended all of those contracts in response to legal pressure in 2020.
However, a Clearview pitch deck that was leaked earlier this year indicated that the company was looking to return to the private sphere. Ton-That has confirmed that the reports were accurate, and shed some more light on the company’s plans. In that regard, he explained that Clearview could create a separate product line for the private sector, that is distinct from the service that the company currently offers to law enforcement. The service would give corporate clients access to Clearview’s face matching technology, but would not give them access to the company’s massive 20 billion image database, which is still reserved for government agencies.
That news is noteworthy because it heads off some of the privacy concerns that cropped up in 2020 and that would almost certainly re-emerge should Clearview revisit its private interests. It would essentially mean that Clearview’s database is not for sale on the open market, and that regular civilians would not be able to buy their way into the system.
Clearview has been prioritizing law enforcement for most of the past two years, and had indicated that its focus was still on law enforcement as recently as February. The company is disclosing its plan now in the interest of transparency, since it is still facing legal challenges in Illinois, where it has been accused of collecting biometric data without consent in violation of the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act. Ton-That also wanted to clear up a misconception arising from the minutes of a March 17 hearing in that case. The minutes suggested that Clearview leadership was looking to sell the company, but the CEO has insisted that they were only informing the judge about the potential selling of new products.
In that regard, Ton-That detailed an authentication solution that would be marketed to banks and other commercial enterprises. The solution would ask users to register their facial biometrics to enable biometric identity verification the next time they want to complete a transaction or log into their account. The offering would require the consent of the user and would utilize the facial recognition technology Clearview developed with its database, but would only match faces on a more limited one-to-one basis.
Source: AP News
April 5, 2022 – by Eric Weiss