Clearview AI facial recognition technology may be illegal in Europe

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Posted on: June 12, 2020 10:11 pm EDT

According to a privacy group in Europe, Clearview AI’s facial recognition technology might be illegal throughout the European continent. The American company’s technology makes it possible to match photos of a person’s face with over 3 billion images scraped from Facebook, Instagram, Google Images, YouTube, and other internet sites.

Earlier this year, Clearview began offering its services to 26 nations beyond the United States of America, including the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Norway, Italy, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovenia, and Switzerland.

Although Clearview AI has conversed with government bodies, law enforcement agencies, and police in several European counties, the European Data Protection Board is critical of the move. Earlier this week, European Data Protection Board warned, “the use of a service such as Clearview AI by law enforcement authorities in the European Union would, as it stands, likely not be consistent with the EU data protection regime.”

Clearview AI Chief Executive Officer Hoan Ton-That noted, “Clearview’s image-search technology is not currently available in the European Union. Nevertheless, Clearview AI processes data-access and data-deletion requests from EU residents. In fact, Clearview AI searches the public internet just like any other search engine.”

Tech giants including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google have all threatened legal action against Clearview after they discovered Clearview was scraping their images. Based on an earlier report in the New York Times, more than 60 law enforcement agencies in the United States have made use Clearview AI’s facial recognition software.

With public support for law enforcement on the decline in recent weeks, several technology companies have pledged to change the way they use facial recognition AI. IBM announced on Monday that they would be withdrawing from the business of facial recognition. Amazon followed suit on Wednesday by announcing that it will temporarily stop selling its Rekognition software to law enforcement.

The European Data Protection Board can be found online at