The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada released a report of findings regarding Clearview AI. They sought to determine whether Clearview AI Inc.’s collection, use and disclosure of personal information by means of facial recognition tool complied with federal and provincial privacy laws applicable to the private sector.
Here are some of their conclusions:
- They found that Clearview engaged in the collection, use and disclosure of personal information through the development and provision of its facial recognition application, without requisite consent.
- They found that Clearview’s collection, use and disclosure of personal information through the provision of its facial recognition application was for a purpose that a reasonable person would find to be inappropriate.
- They found that Clearview does not comply with sections of the law by using biometric information for identification purposes without the express consent of individuals concerned by and that Clearview IA did not disclose its database of biometric characteristics and measurements to the Commission.
- As a result, the Commissioner recommended that Clearview “cease offering the facial recognition services that have been the subject of this investigation to clients in Canada.” Clearview must also cease the collection, use and disclosure of images and biometric facial arrays collected from individuals in Canada and must also delete images and biometric facial arrays collected from individuals in Canada from its possession.
If Clearview refuses to adhere to those recommendations, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada “will pursue other actions available to us under our respected Acts to bring Clearview into compliance with federal and provincial privacy laws applicable to the public sector.”
The New York Times reported the following:
Clearview scraped more than three billion photos from social media networks and other public websites in order to build a facial recognition app that is now used by over 2,400 U.S. law enforcement agencies, according to the company. When an officer runs a search, the app provides links to sites on the web where the person’s face has appeared. The scope of the company’s reach and law enforcement application was first reported by The New York Times in January of 2020.
According to The New York Times, Hoan Ton-That, the chief executive of Clearview AI, said Wednesday that the company stopped operating in Canada last July – because of the inquiry. The company had no plans to proactively delete Canadians from its database. The New York Times also reported that authorities in Australia and the United Kingdom are jointly pursuing an inquiry of their own.
Personally, I think it should be illegal to gather up people’s personal information – including photos of their faces – without first receiving permission to specifically do that. There is no valid reason for companies to secretly harvest random people’s photos and hand them over to law enforcement, especially when there is no evidence that the people have committed any crimes.