Clearview AI is in the news again. This time, the company is being flagged for having allowed wealthy investors to try its biometric identification app on a personal basis.
The company has already generated more than its share of controversy, first when a New York Times report revealed that the company had been providing police departments with a facial recognition platform that trawls the internet and social media profiles for photos; then when the company announced that its list of clients was stolen; and again when the full client list was revealed to include thousands of organizations including those outside of law enforcement, such as retail chains and schools.
Now, a new report from The New York Times says that Clearview AI let John Catsimatidis, the owner of a major grocery store chain, play with the app on his phone, which he used for such purposes as identifying a man who was on a date with his daughter. Catsimatidis also ran a trial of Clearview’s biometric surveillance technology in one of his stores.
Other Clearview investors, including fund manager Hal Lambert, venture capitalist David Scalzo, and Sequoia partner Doug Leone, were also given personal logins to the app, as were friends of the company’s executives, The Times says.
The report is surely the least disturbing of the Clearview revelations thus far, but further illustrates the company’s cavalier attitude about privacy rights and related issues with regards to its app. Arriving at a time of intense media and political scrutiny over facial recognition technologies, the Clearview controversy may serve to further stoke the concerns that have led to state and municipal bans and restrictions of the use of facial recognition.
March 6, 2020 – by Alex Perala