Canadians Can Ask Clearview AI If Their Photos Are In Their Database…. But You May Not Be Able To Get Them Deleted

The CBC is reporting that controversial U.S.-based facial recognition technology firm Clearview AI is apparently allowing Canadians to check whether their face appears in the company’s image database. But you might not be able to delete them. Here’s the details that a CBC reporter got from the company:

Last week, a CBC News reporter submitted a headshot to the company by email and requested they provide all images of him found in the firm’s database. Clearview replied three days later, supplying a PDF file with 12 photos, including several duplicates. 

All pictures were closeups of the reporter’s face.Clearview listed where it had first found the images, including official CBC web pages, Twitter, and other services which appear to scrape social media profiles, such as a website called “Insta Stalker.”

Both Twitter and Facebook, which owns Instagram, have told Clearview to stop using images from their platforms for facial recognition.

Well, that’s scary. If you want to find out if you’re in their database, and chances are you are, here’s how you find out:

“You have the right to request that Clearview AI provides you with copies of your personal data,” the firm’s website states. It says to email the request to privacy-requests@clearview.ai, along with a headshot which will be used for the search.

But Canadians may not be able to get those photos yanked:

Clearview’s privacy policy says it’s possible to ask for personal data to be deleted, but only “under certain conditions,” depending on local data protection rules. Its website provides formsfor residents of various jurisdictions with privacy legislation in effect — such as California, Britain and the EU — to request their images be deleted.

In response to a series of questions from CBC — including whether the firm would comply if a Canadian user requests their data be deleted from Clearview’s database — the firm’s CEO, Hoan Ton-That, provided a one-line statement.

“We process privacy requests for opt-out and data access we receive from Canadian citizens,” he said. 

The “opt-out” option appears to suggest Canadians can get Clearview to stop selling their data to other companies, even though the firm itself says it “will never share or sell user data.” A representative of the company did not respond to a request for clarification on what specifically the opt-out entails. 

This is a lame response from Clearview AI. But not surprising. After all this is a firm that is at best is kind of shady. What needs to happen is that the Canadian Government needs to pass a law to force companies like Clearview AI to delete data upon request. Now this will likely cut into their profits and make their software less effective which is likely why the company doesn’t want to do this. And I am sure that if the Canadian Government does serve up such legislation, Clearview AI will fight it as hard as they can. But it’s clear that as IBM pointed out yesterday, facial recognition has serious problems. Thus all Canadians, if not everyone everywhere needs protections from companies like Clearview AI who want to profit from this tech at any cost.

2 Responses to “Canadians Can Ask Clearview AI If Their Photos Are In Their Database…. But You May Not Be Able To Get Them Deleted”

  1. […] from the perspective of the casual observer. And there’s still the question of if the firm will delete the photos of Canadians if you ask them to. So I for one am happy that Clearview AI is gone from Canada. Let’s hope that other […]

  2. […] previously written about Clearview AI and how they treat Canadians who have had their faces sucked up into their facial recognition databa…. In short, while Canadians could find out if they were in the database, they could not opt […]

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