Surprise! Clearview AI Broke Canadian Privacy Laws…. Not That They Care

Clearview AI is back in the news for all the wrong reasons. It has come to light in the last 24 hours that the company who is known for scraping social media for pictures so that it can use them to power its facial recognition tech for various law enforcement agencies has a product that is effectively illegal in Canada according to a joint investigation involving the Canadian Privacy Commissioner, Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, and the Information Privacy Commissioner of Alberta. The report put out by this group is pretty damming and doesn’t paint Clearview AI in a positive light and the company really is giving Canada the metaphorical middle finger:

In disagreeing with our findings, Clearview alleged an absence of harms to individuals flowing from its activities. In our view, Clearview’s position fails to acknowledge: (i) the myriad of instances where false, or misapplied matches could result in reputational damage, and (ii) more fundamentally, the affront to individuals’ privacy rights and broad-based harm inflicted on all members of society, who find themselves under continual mass surveillance by Clearview based on its indiscriminate scraping and processing of their facial images.

In terms of remedies, noting that it had withdrawn from the Canadian market during our investigation, Clearview stated that it was “prepared to consider” remaining outside of the Canadian market for a further two years, while our Offices developed relevant guidance. Clearview suggested that it would be appropriate for our Offices to suspend our investigation and not issue this final report, and that during such a suspension, it “would be willing to take steps, on a best efforts and without prejudice basis, to try to limit the collection and distribution of the images that it is able to identify as Canadian” [emphasis added]. Clearview has not committed to following our recommendations. The Offices view it as inappropriate to suspend the investigation and not issue this Report. We therefore find the matter to be well-founded and restate the recommendations in our preliminary findings.

It’s nice to know that Canadian authorities aren’t willing to take Clearview AI’s bulls**t. Which is what this company is pedaling at this point based on their blog. It really seems that Clearview AI is going out of their way to defend their behavior. In fact that they use the age old technique of justifying it by claiming that they put the bad guys in jail and said bad guys would otherwise go free if it were not for their technology. To me that’s really lame. And they really need to address the fact that they have broken the law in Canada if they want to be seen as a good corporate citizen. Until then, Canadian authorities need to keep putting the pressure on Clearview AI to change it behavior. Especially since getting any photos that the company has of you out of their database is a challenge that the company appears to be unwilling to address.

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