from the come-back-and-take-your-beating,-you-cowards dept
Clearview AI — the facial recognition service that gives all kinds of entities access to billions of face images scraped from the web — is suddenly scaling back on its aggressive expansion plans. Once the plaything of billionaires, the unproven AI has been sold to retailers, fitness centers, police departments, and a handful of human rights violators.
Soon after its existence was exposed by the New York Times, Clearview AI proceeded to announce its plans to expand worldwide — something it hoped to achieve while being sued multiple times in its home country. Canada was in its sights, but not so much any more.
In February, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada announced its office would be investigating Clearview AI and its still-not-independently-tested algorithm. This was triggered by numerous reports from journalists exposing how Clearview obtained its massive database of photos and how it was being used by government agencies and private entities.
The Privacy Commissioner was not impressed with Clearview’s apparent disregard for privacy, saying it was specifically looking into reports that Clearview was collecting and using personal info without consent.
The investigation is still ongoing. But it appears Clearview is hoping to dodge the worst of it by removing itself from the Canadian market:
Clearview AI has advised Canadian privacy protection authorities that, in response to their joint investigation, it will cease offering its facial recognition services in Canada.
This step includes the indefinite suspension of Clearview AI’s contract with the RCMP, which was its last remaining client in Canada.
Clearview is making like a cop under investigation and retiring before it’s concluded. But that’s not going to save Clearview from findings that are pretty much guaranteed to be damning.
The investigation of Clearview by privacy protection authorities for Canada, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec remains open. The authorities still plan to issue findings in this matter given the importance of the issue for the privacy rights of Canadians.
And the investigation Clearview can’t dodge by saying “you can’t fire me, I quit” will continue, looking into the company’s slurping of Canadians’ data as well as any attempts it makes to divest itself of contested Canadian data as it promises to pull out.
Good riddance, I say. And Canada says. Not directly, as of yet, but when the investigation concludes, I doubt the Privacy Commissioner will be offering Clearview a “we had you all wrong, bro.” Clearview is the pox upon the humanity that is the facial recognition arms race. Weaponizing people’s online postings against them using unproven AI is just pure evil.