Clearview AI has fined the British for illegally saving face images

Clearview AI, a New York-based facial recognition company, has been fined £ 7.5 million ($ 9.4 million) by the UK’s privacy regulator.

Over the past few years, the firm has collected images from the web and social media of people in the UK and elsewhere to create a worldwide online database that law enforcement can use for facial recognition.

The Information Commission’s office said Monday that the agency had violated UK data protection laws.

The ICO has instructed Clearview to delete UK resident information and prohibits it from being collected again. CNBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Clearview writes on its website that it has collected more than 20 billion facial images of people around the world. It collects publicly posted images from social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, as well as news media, the Mugshot website and other open sources. It does this without informing the people or asking their consent.

The Clearview platform allows law enforcement agencies to upload a photo of a person and try to match the photos stored in the Clearview database.

The UK Information Commissioner John Edwards said in a statement: “The company not only enables the identification of those individuals, but also effectively monitors their behavior and offers it as a commercial service. This is unacceptable.”

He added that people expect their personal information to be respected, regardless of where their data is being used in the world.

Clearview has been fined by regulators in France, Italy and Australia.

The move comes after a joint investigation by the Australian Information Commissioner’s Office.

Clearview does not disclose the names of its clients, but BuzzFeed News reports that it has worked with 2,200 law enforcement agencies, companies and individuals worldwide. Messi, Walmart, Bank of America and Target have all reportedly used the service. CNBC could not independently verify the reports.

In May 2020, Clearview said it would stop working with regulatory verification and potential lawsuits with non-law enforcement agencies and private companies.

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