They’ve conducted nearly a million searches for US police, and it’s stirring up quite the controversy.
For those not in the know, Clearview AI is a facial recognition technology firm that has transformed the way law enforcement tracks down suspects. By simply uploading a photo of a suspect’s face, their software searches through a massive database of billions of images, seeking a match. Sounds like a nifty little tool, right? But there’s a catch.
In a recent interview with BBC, Clearview AI’s CEO, Hoan Ton-That, casually mentioned that they’ve scraped a whopping 30 billion images from platforms like Facebook. And here’s the real kicker: they did it without user permission! Talk about stepping on some toes!
While Clearview AI has been slapped with hefty fines in Europe and Australia for privacy breaches, US police continue to tap into their powerful software. You may wonder why this is such a big deal. Well, allow me to paint a picture for you.
Matthew Guaragilia from the Electronic Frontier Foundation summed it up perfectly by stating that Clearview AI essentially puts everyone into a “perpetual police line-up”. Yikes! And while you might think that this technology is reserved for hunting down only the most dangerous of criminals, think again. Miami Police confirmed that they use Clearview AI’s software for all types of crimes.
Miami’s Assistant Chief of Police, Armando Aguilar, proudly shared that his team used the system about 450 times a year. He claims that Clearview AI has played a role in solving several murder cases. But hold your applause, folks. There’s a darker side to this story.
Numerous cases of mistaken identity have been reported due to the use of facial recognition by the police. Take Robert Williams, for example. He was wrongfully arrested in front of his family and spent a night in a “crowded and filthy” cell.
As Kate Ruane, Senior Legislative Counsel for the ACLU, pointed out, “The perils of face recognition technology are not hypothetical — study after study and real-life have already shown us its dangers.” She also emphasized the technology’s alarmingly high inaccuracy rate when used against people of color, leading to the wrongful arrests of innocent individuals like Robert Williams.
The real problem lies in the lack of transparency surrounding police use of facial recognition. The actual number of wrongful arrests caused by this technology is likely far greater than we know. Civil rights advocates are calling for police forces using Clearview AI to be more forthcoming about its usage and for its accuracy to be rigorously tested in court. They’re also pushing for independent experts to scrutinize these systems.
So, here we are, walking a tightrope between using technology to fight crime and protecting individual rights. The use of facial recognition technology by police is a contentious issue, to say the least. While it may help solve crimes, it also jeopardizes civil liberties and privacy.
As we tread cautiously along this fine line, it’s essential to keep our eyes wide open and continue asking questions. After all, when it comes to the delicate balance between safety and privacy, there’s no room for missteps.
Quick facts about Clearview AI
- Clearview AI was founded in 2017 by Hoan Ton-That and Richard Schwartz.
- The company’s software uses artificial intelligence to analyze publicly available images and videos, such as those posted on social media, to identify individuals based on their facial features.
- According to Clearview AI, its software can match faces with a 99.6% accuracy rate.
- Clearview AI has faced controversy and legal challenges over its data collection practices, privacy concerns, and use by law enforcement agencies.
- In 2020, several major tech companies, including Google, Twitter, and Facebook, sent cease-and-desist letters to Clearview AI, demanding that the company stop scraping their platforms for user data.
- As of 2021, Clearview AI’s facial recognition software is used by more than 2,400 law enforcement agencies, according to a report by The New York Times.
- Clearview AI has raised millions of dollars in funding from investors, including Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.