Clearview Data Breach Prompts Renewed Calls To Curb Facial Recognition 02/27/2020

Daniel Fowler
February 28, 2020

Over 600 federal and state law enforcement agencies have signed up with Clearview in the past year, according to the New York Times, which published a feature on the company last month unequivocally titled "This company might end privacy as we know it".

Clearview AI recently notified its clients that the company's entire customer list had been stolen, according to a report Wednesday in The Daily Beast.

The company is also looking to expand its client base - a spokesperson told Business Insider in February that Clearview's service has "received inquiries from law enforcement agencies all over the world". Clearview hastened to add that there had been "no compromise of Clearview's systems or network", claiming it had fixed the vulnerability (which was apparently not in its systems or network) and that its law enforcement customers' search histories were safe.

The Daily Beast first reported the news.

Clearview, whose services are reportedly being tested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to the New York Times, has been sharply criticised over its data collection process. The service, which reportedly has more than three billion images, requires a user to input an image of a face, and then culls out all similar faces available in its database.

Expedia reportedly slashes 12% of workforce following plans to simplify ops
In its last financial report published in December 2019, the company said it aims to simplify operations and increase efficiency. During that call, the company said it was targeting $300 million to $500 million of run-rate cost savings across its business.

Clearview AI has been under scrutiny for collecting billions of public images from the Internet to build a proprietary image search tool, which it sells to law enforcement.

That prompted cease-and-desist letters from tech giants Twitter, Google and Facebook.

"Clearview's statement that security is its "top priority" would be laughable if the company's failure to safeguard its information wasn't so disturbing and threatening to the public's privacy", Markey said. "Any breach, regardless of what data was leaked, is likely to have lasting impact, and this holds true for something as sensitive as a client list for a controversial company like Clearview AI". Our servers were never accessed.

"Their entire client list was stolen in the data breach and their response was 'data breaches are just life in the 21st century.' What crap. But you can't change biometric information like your facial characteristics if a company like Clearview fails to keep that data secure", he said.

NY state lawmaker Senator Brad Hoylman, who recently proposed a bill to temporarily ban the use of facial-recognition technology by police, also suggested that the data breach raises broader concerns about the privacy risks of faceprint databases. "We patched the flaw and continue to work to strengthen our security", Ekeland said.

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