Clearview AI is no longer available in Canada. The controversial facial recognition provider has terminated all of its contracts in the country after drawing the attention of multiple privacy watchdogs at the federal and provincial levels.
This is not the first time that Clearview has abandoned a territory in response to legal pressure. The company recently ended all public and private contracts after being hit with several BIPA lawsuits in the state of Illinois. In that case, Clearview is hoping that a proactive decision will help fend off a more permanent injunction.
The logic is almost certainly similar in Canada. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada is currently investigating the company for privacy violations, as are the respective privacy authorities of Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec. Several Canadian law enforcement agencies had previously confirmed that they sampled Clearview’s technology, though the RCMP was the only organization in the entire country that still had an active account.
The RCMP had originally indicated that it would continue using Clearview despite the concerns about the company’s questionable practices. The agency’s use of Clearview software is now the subject of a separate Privacy Commissioner investigation.
“This shows that we can indeed make a difference and stop privacy-invasive practices,” said former Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian.
While Canadian privacy advocates celebrated the decision, there are some lingering concerns about Clearview’s database, which contains upwards of 3 billion unique images. Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That stated that Canadians can now opt out of Clearview searches, but did not provide any details about how to do so.
The Privacy Commissioner is aware of those ongoing concerns. The organization is looking into “the deletion of the personal information of Canadians that Clearview has already collected, as well as the cessation of Clearview’s collection of Canadians’ personal information.”
July 7, 2020 – by Eric Weiss