Facial recognition company Clearview AI fined £7.5m

The UK’s privacy watchdog fined facial recognition company Clearview AI more than £7.5 million for obtaining face images of people in the UK from the web and social media.
Clearview AI Inc’s bots combed the internet for more than 20 billion images of people’s faces and data from publicly available data and social media sites for its global database.
Customers who pay may upload an image to the company’s app, which is then checked to photographic matches in the database, which are recorded with metadata such as the source of the photo.
The company’s customers include numerous commercial and police organisations and its database has provoked concerns from US politicians and civil liberties organisations.
“Given the high number of UK internet and social media users, Clearview AI’s database is likely to include a substantial amount of data from UK residents, which has been gathered without their knowledge,” the Information Commissioner’s Office stated.
John Edwards, the UK information commissioner, said the company “not only enables identification” of the people in its database “but effectively monitors their behaviour and offers it as a commercial service. That is unacceptable.”
The fine follows a joint investigation with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).
The two agencies found the US-based company in breach of data protection laws for “failing to have a lawful reason for collecting people’s information and failing to have a process in place to stop the data being retained indefinitely”.
John Edwards, UK Information Commissioner, stated on May 23: “The company not only enables identification of those people, but effectively monitors their behaviour and offers it as a commercial service.”

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