Facial recognition firm Clearview has built a massive AI-powered database of billions of pictures collected from social media platforms without obtaining users’ consent.
In late March, Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That told BBC in an interview that the company had obtained 30 billion photos without users’ knowledge over the years, scraped mainly from social media platforms like Facebook. He said US law enforcement agencies use the database to identify criminals.
Ton-That disputed claims that the photos were unlawfully collected. He told Bussiness Insider in an emailed statement, “Clearview AI’s database of publicly available images is lawfully collected, just like any other search engine like Google.”
However, privacy advocates and social media companies have been highly critical of Clearview AI.
“Clearview AI’s actions invade people’s privacy which is why we banned their founder from our services and sent them a legal demand to stop accessing any data, photos, or videos from our services,” a Meta spokesperson said in an email to Insider.
Ton-That told Insider the database is not publicly available and is only used by law enforcement. He said the software had been used more than a million times by police. …