A U.S. facial recognition company is being fined almost $9.4 million by a U.K. privacy regulator for illegally gathering photos from the internet to create a global database for law enforcement officials.
Clearview AI, a New-York based company, has collected more than 20 billion facial images from online posts and social media platforms without informing users they would be collected to create an online database that could be used by police in their investigations. The database violates U.K. data protection laws, prompting officials to fine the company and order it to delete the data.
FACIAL RECOGNITION FIRM AIMS TO COLLECT 100 BILLION PHOTOS BY 2023
“The company not only enables identification of those people, but effectively monitors their behaviour and offers it as a commercial service,” said U.K. Information Commissioner John Edwards in a statement. “That is unacceptable. That is why we have acted to protect people in the UK by both fining the company and issuing an enforcement notice.”
The platform created by Clearview allows authorities to upload a photo to the system, which matches the photo to photos of people that were already stored in the database after being gathered from online accounts. France, Italy, and Australia have fined the company for the same practice.
The U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office decried this conduct, arguing it violates the country’s laws by collecting data without consent and hindering efforts by “individuals who wish to object to their data being collected and used.”
“People expect that their personal information will be respected, regardless of where in the world their data is being used,” Edwards said. “That is why global companies need international enforcement. Working with colleagues around the world helped us take this action and protect people from such intrusive activity.”
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
Clearview has previously faced scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers, with a group of bipartisan senators attempting to pass a bill last year that would have restricted law enforcement’s ability to purchase data from the company. Big Tech companies such as Facebook and YouTube have also called on Clearview to end its practices, with privacy advocates denouncing it as a serious privacy breach.
However, the company has said it plans to expand, telling investors in February it would have 100 billion facial photos in its databases by the end of the year.
Clearview has not responded to a request for comment by the Washington Examiner.