Controversial US facial recognition company Clearview AI has reportedly told investors it wants to collect 100 billion photos — enough to ensure nearly every human being will be in its database.
The Washington Post reported today:
Clearview AI tells investors it’s on track to have 100 billion facial photos in its database within a year, enough to ensure “almost everyone in the world will be identifiable,” according to a December financial presentation obtained by The Washington Post. .
The December presentation was part of an effort to secure new funding from investors, with 100 billion facial photos being the ultimate goal. The presentation states that Clearview has already collected up to 10 billion images and is still adding 1.5 billion images per month.
Clearview is said to have told investors it needs $50 million to meet its goal of 100 billion photos. The post added:
The company said its “facial index” has grown from 3 billion images to more than 10 billion since early 2020, and its data collection system now records 1.5 billion images per month. With $50 million from investors, the company said, it could expand its data-gathering powers to 100 billion photos, build new products, expand its international sales force and pay more to lobby government policymakers to to develop favorable regulations. Clearview built its database by taking images from social networks and other online sources without the permission of the websites or the people being photographed. Facebook, Google, Twitter and YouTube have demanded that the company stop taking photos from their sites and remove all previously taken photos. Clearview has argued that the data collection is protected by the First Amendment.
The news agency noted that Clearview “wants to go “beyond face scanning for police, saying in the presentation it could monitor gig economy workers and explore several new technologies that can identify someone based on how they walk.” , detect their location from a photo or scan their fingerprints from afar.”
Clearview founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That said in a statement to Ars:
Clearview AI’s database of publicly available images is collected by law just like any other search engine, including Google. It is used by law enforcement agencies for post-crime investigations to help identify perpetrators of crime.
Ton-That added that the company had collected photos from “millions of websites” that were publicly available on the Internet. The founder also stated that the company had not yet decided whether to sell its facial recognition service to non-governmental organizations.
The CEO also clarified that “every photo in the dataset is a potential clue that could save a life, do justice to an innocent victim, prevent wrongful identification or exonerate an innocent person.” In the future, however, the company’s approach may change with its business model.
Our principles reflect the current use of our technology. If those practices change, the principles will be updated as necessary.
Clearview faces several privacy lawsuits and lost a major ruling Monday in a case over whether the company violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act by collecting and using facial photos of other people without their consent.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation noted that:
A federal judge dismissed Clearview’s First Amendment defense, denied the company’s request to dismiss, and allowed the lawsuits to continue.
A Vice report quoted Ton-That claiming that Airbnb, Lyft and Uber expressed an interest in using Clearview facial recognition “for consent-based identity verification, as there are many issues with crimes happening on their platforms”.
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