Clearview AI is making another play for legitimacy. The embattled facial recognition specialist has put together an Advisory Board to oversee the development of the company’s technology and business moving forward.
In its announcement, Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That reaffirmed the company’s commitment to government and law enforcement, and indicated that the board would help the company deliver solutions that appeal to those particular sectors. However, Ton-That was less forthcoming on the subjects of privacy and compliance. Clearview’s disregard for privacy has repeatedly landed the company in legal hot water in recent years, and the makeup of the Advisory Board suggests that the company is still prioritizing performance over ethics.
In that regard, the members of the Advisory Board are drawn primarily from the law enforcement and government sectors. Members include former New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and former National Security Council senior official Richard Clarke, who served during both Bush Presidencies and the Clinton administration.
Lee Wolosky, Thomas Feddo, and Owen West bring additional national security expertise. Like Clarke, Wolosky sat on the National Security Council, while Feddo recently served as the Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury for Investment Security. West, meanwhile, worked under Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as the Assistant Defense Secretary for Special Operations between 2017 and 2019.
The Advisory Board’s more civilian members are Rudy Washington, Floyd Abrams, and Sarah Schott. Schott is a long-time financial executive, while Washington was a Deputy Mayor in New York City and Abrams is a prominent free speech attorney.
Of those, Abrams’ appointment seems particularly noteworthy, since free speech has been a key component of Clearview’s legal defense. The company has tried to argue that the first amendment gives the company the right to use (and profit from) any information that is available to the public, and that it has no legal obligation to seek consent when using personal photos. Privacy authorities in Canada have disagreed with that line of thought, though it is not yet clear how the argument will play out in the United States.
August 19, 2021 – by Eric Weiss