back to article UK privacy watchdog may fine selfie-hoarding Clearview AI £17m... eventually, perhaps

Clearview AI, the controversial startup known for scraping billions of selfies from people's public social network profiles to train a facial-recognition system, may be fined just over £17m ($22.6m) by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The watchdog on Monday publicly mulled punishing Clearview following an …

  1. tiggity Silver badge


    That last "think of the children" excuse for being scum quote really boiled my piss, really wish hefty jail sentences were available for clearview

    1. Chris G

      Re: Scum

      Ironic isn't it? That amoral scum fall back to the moral high ground in order to defend their amoral actions.

      I have no respect either for the lawyers who take money to defend amoral actions

      1. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: Scum

        Immoral. Amoral would mean that their actions fall outside the scope of normal morality, or that they have some mental disorder that makes them incapable of understanding morality at all. These scum know perfectly well that what they're doing is wrong, they just don't care.

    2. Michael Strorm Silver badge

      Re: Scum

      *Exactly* how I felt about that self-righteous, self-serving fake concern and attempt at moral ransom.

      And as regards

      his startup collected “public data from the open internet.”

      Whether or not something is publicly-accessible (*) online, that doesn't automatically grant carte blanche to do anything they want with it. But then, they already know that damn well and they're resorting to this weasel-worded nonsense to defend the indefensible.

      As you say, "scum".

      (*) And this doesn't include cases where they had to click-through agreed terms and conditions and/or log in- again, having agreed to conditions when they signed up- to access that data.

    3. iron Silver badge

      Re: Scum

      Whether its politics or corporate statements... hypocrisy is the new black.

      What he meant to say was:

      “My company and I have acted in the best interests of my bank balance by assisting investigators of dubious legality in perpetrating heinous crimes against children, seniors, and other innocent netizens by unscrupulously hoarding their photos for our illegal data mining operation,” he said in a statement.

  2. Peter Galbavy

    £17m is a small drop in the ocean, unless I've misread it and this is a daily fine until the images are removed, and proveably so, from their trough. This level of fine makes it a viable business model still for them.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Yes; perhaps there should be a significant fine - millions or more - per individual offence, not for the act of having done it and promised to stop,

      There needs (in my not-so-humble opinion) a painful message sent that this sort of behaviour is - whether legal or not - unwanted. Just because you *can* do something doesn't mean you *should*.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The chocolate teapot in action again.

        And that's before the offender negotiates his own fine...

  3. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Is scraping this sort of thing from social media not against the T&Cs of most social media sites?

    I remember Facebook controversially changed their terms and conditions a few years ago so basically any image you uploaded to Facebook became their IP that they could use as they wanted. Unless that has now changed or Clearview had permission from Facebook to scrape these images, then FB could actually use some of their millions of dollars to throw a sueball at Clearview for breaching their T&C

    1. Chris G

      FB has sent 'cease and desist' letters to Clearview as well as general complaints but does not seem to have done much else. Google also tells me that Clearview have a social channel on Facebook so FB are possibly not as unhappy as they like to sound.

      Considering FB abandoned it's own attempts at facial recognition, the cynic in me suggests they may be, if not in bed with clearview , having the odd sleepover.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Lends a whole new meaning to 'friends with benefits'...

    2. iron Silver badge

      Facebook didn't change those Ts&Cs, everything you upload to social media belongs to the social media company. It always has and it doesn't matter if that company is Facebook, Twitter, Google or even MySpace back in the day, they all have those clauses.

      There are good resons some of us have never used social media, this is one of them.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        AOL, GeoCities and the like were doing that so long ago that the likes of Facebook and MySpace were not even a glint in the eyes of their creators yet. There's a very long history of service/space providers giving themselves perpetual and wide range rights to any data placed on their servers. Although they never seem to accept any of the responsibilities that go with hosting that data.

  4. MOH

    Clearview's lawyer: "To be clear, Clearview AI does not do business in the UK, and does not have any UK customers at this time."

    Clearview's CEO: “My company and I have acted in the best interests of the UK and their people by assisting law enforcement in solving heinous crimes against children, seniors, and other victims of unscrupulous acts”

    That's pretty impressive considering they don't do any business there.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Better yet, they are currently contesting a court judgement against them in their homeland of Oz because, according the court, Clearview have broken Oz law too.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Social media

    What’s the harm…..?

  6. Cederic Silver badge

    capturing public content on the internet

    Accessing, viewing and referencing public content is very different from collating it and building a large data store.

    It's another step further when you start processing it.

    Then you start using that processing to accuse people of looking like criminals, including paedophiles?

    Dear Clearview,


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: capturing public content on the internet

      What do you think Google and all the other search engines that bring you daily benefit do? We are more than happy for commercial surveillance to take place every second and justify it to ourselves as long as we are getting some free tech. Happy to share pictures of our morning breakfast with the world but then complain when the same data is used for some actual good rather than sending you a dozen ads every minute.

      The only difference here is the purpose. I would argue is lawful as it is only for a lawful policing purpose which 'The Directive' under the GDPR would covers. The data is already available to law enforcement 'its publicly available' but difficult to search the internet in order to find sometimes but it is there.

      Clearview collates images that can be searched against, potentially saving peoples lives. I am all for the protection of rights and freedoms but there needs to be a technological balance. Law enforcement is being left behind the curve and crippled when it comes to investigating crimes because there is no balance.

      The UK is nothing like the US when it comes to data protection and the employment of these types of technologies come with extensive policy, safeguards and auditing built in. The only images that would be searched against are ones that are unknown, being investigated or require some sort of safeguarding (e.g. vulnerable children being exploited).

      The need for improved technological capability within law enforcement is only going to expand in the years to come. The question you have to ask yourself is do you want a police service that is fit for purpose in the digital age. How do you expect law enforcement to deal with crimes in the Metaverse for example?

      E.O. Wilson said, 'We have palaeolithic emotions, medieval laws and godlike technology.'

      Something needs to change.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Of course, no-one would think of posting a horde of photos of a person with a swathe of random personal disinformation

  8. Mike 16

    "...nobody in the UK will have expected"

    Have you all been comatose since the last millennium?

  9. Jet Set Willy

    Not a problem for me but...

    I'm not on any (anti)social media platform and have never felt the urge to join one. However, should I commit a crime and the plod use Clearview AI to match my countenance, Louis Theroux will be in deep shit.

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