back to article Joint UK-Oz probe finds face-recognition upstart Clearview AI is rubbish at privacy

A joint probe conducted by the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has found that facial-recognition-as-a-service company Clearview AI breached Australian privacy laws. Clearview AI harvests photos from the public internet, uses AI to identify the people depicted, then …

  1. katrinab Silver badge

    Copyright violation?

    Has anyone tried a DMVA takedown notice on them? Their entire product is built on photos they don’t have copyright permission to use.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Copyright violation?

      No, but considering the countries that find ClearView is operating in breach of law and ClearViews answer is to simply pull out of that country and block their IP addresses and almost certainly are not deleting the relevant data, maybe it's time to find them in contempt or some such and either put out an international arrest warrant or, at least, make all the corporate officers "persons of interest" such that they will be arrested if they set foot in said countries. At the very least, that could screw up their travel plans.

  2. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Ten billion images in its databases

    That's greater than the world population and probably several times greater than the number of people with scrapable photos,

    Even if they have a low percentage rate of false positives, that sounds like an awful lot of potential mismatches in absolute numbers and that number will, presumably, grow as more images are added. Not sure it's useful, never mind ethical, except as a marketing brag.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: Ten billion images in its databases

      They will ideally have multiple images as part of the training - ten images of hypothetical person Malcolm X would make identification of that face more accurate from less than ideal photos. How many images could they scrape from Average Joe's social media presence, 10? 100? These are not just those posted by Average Joe but also those shared with Average Joe. The numbers rapidly add up. I suspect the whole of Alabama (for instance) could probably give 1bn training pictures for "id" delivery to the local law enforcement ... not inferring anything, just a totally random state you understand. Even His Trumpyness' historic media presence would probably generate tens of thousands of shared hits ...

      I wonder how they associate id with any photograph - I would assume that any "image X is heavily associated with Profile Y" to allow further investigation rather than putting a name to a face ...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Ten billion images in its databases

        "I would assume that any "image X is heavily associated with Profile Y" to allow further investigation rather than putting a name to a face ..."

        For a company Calling itself Clearview AI, that's a pretty hefty and forgiving assumption. I suspect the only manual checking that might be going on is by their law enforcement customers when they get the AI generated results back. Manual checking of the AI results means paying humans to the job they claim the AI can do on it's own.

  3. Kane Silver badge

    Ten billion images in its databases...

    ...maybe time to poison the well?

    1. JDPower666 Bronze badge

      Re: Ten billion images in its databases...

      A few years too late for that.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "Brit watchdog considering next steps, Australia's orders deletion of scraped image trove"

    Just in case anyone was still not sure about how useless the ICO is.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "Brit watchdog considering next steps, Australia's orders deletion of scraped image trove"

      Or, maybe the ICO knows that anything it "orders" will be ignored, just as Australia will be.

  5. cyberdemon Silver badge

    See Icon

    Pope still catholic, bears still shit in woods, surveillance capitalists still making billions by spying on everyone.

  6. Eclectic Man Silver badge

    Right of removal

    Just a thought, but I do wonder just how accurately 'Clearview AI' can identify someone from a blurred image, and what they actually state as a probability of identification of a known individual.

    In the UK and EU, of course, we have recourse to GDPR and data protection legislation which allows for people to insist that corporations which have personal data associated with them to remove the data if the corporation does not have an adequate reason (as registered with the ICO in the UK or EU country) and that possession of data is causing the subject distress. I do not believe that Clearview IA has a 'National Security' or 'National Law Enforcement' role to avoid that obligation.

    On the other hand, servicing, say, 20 million Subject Access Requests (for free, now in the UK) within the 40 days statutory period, might just be a bit of a strain too, if we all ask at once.

    1. Cynical Pie

      Re: Right of removal

      Well if they are spending 40 days answering a SAR they are screwed as it hasn't been 40 days for over 3 years.

      Its a month from date of receipt under GDPR but this can be extended to 3 months for complex requests which I can't conceive this would be... if it is then their marketing blurb is a lie (I couldn't comment)

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Clearview, meanwhile, sails on serenely"

    So Clearview cut itself off from Australia. I doubt it removed any images though, so it is likely still scraping images of Australian citizens.

    In other words, it continues to do the very thing it has been told not to, but because USA, it doesn't give a flying one.

    Well, if Clearview doesn't give a fig about other people's rights, it is time for the countries of the world to have a word with the White House and get things sorted out vie international agreements.

    Sure, it'll take longer, but given the callous disregard of US Internet CEOs, I doubt there is a better solution.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rule number one

    As a common, garden-variety, plebeian, my best advice is to never store images of yourself on the Internet.

    No Facebook

    No friends

    No Internet pics

    : )

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