Privacy watchdogs have hit Clearview AI with a slew of privacy complaints in Europe. Privacy International filed complaints with the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and France’s Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), while Homo Digitalis, the Hermes Centre for Transparency and Digital Human Rights, and the European Center for Digital Rights filed similar complaints with regulatory bodies in Greece, Italy, and Austria, respectively. Those regulatory bodies are the Hellenic Data Protection Authority (Greece), the Garante per la protezione dei dati personali (Italy), and the Datenschutzbehörde (Austria).
According to Privacy International, the complaints represent a coordinated attempt to bring Clearview to task for privacy violations that affect all European citizens. Clearview has faced several individual complaints in the past, but is yet to suffer major consequences outside of some limited cases in Germany and Sweden.
The complaints themselves focus primarily on Clearview’s alleged violations of the European Union’s GDPR data protection law, and the comparable GDPR and 2018 Data Protection Act in the UK. The watchdogs expressed particular concern about Clearview’s data collection practices, noting that the company did not obtain any form of consent while scraping the web for the more than 3 billion facial images in its biometric database. They argue that Clearivew has no lawful reason to collect and process that personal data, and that its activities do not serve the legitimate interests of the European populace.
The complaints go on to argue that Clearview does not fulfill GDPR’s transparency requirements, and that it collects more personal data than is necessary for its stated purpose. They also allege that the company’s tech does not satisfy the processing requirements established in the EU’s Law Enforcement Directive, which is noteworthy since Clearview has marketed its solution primarily to law enforcement agencies.
The various regulatory bodies have three months to respond to the complaints. In the meantime, the filings will add to Clearview AI’s numerous legal woes. The Canadian Privacy Commissioner has already ruled that the company’s activities violate Canadian privacy law, and there are still several lawsuits pending in California, Illinois, and Vermont.
June 1, 2021 – by Eric Weiss