Clearview AI hit by wave of European privacy complaints


Clearview AI Inc was hit by a wave of complaints across Europe for allegedly breaking the region’s tough privacy laws by scraping billions of facial images from social-media profiles and the Internet.

In a concerted move on Thursday, campaigners including Privacy International and Noyb filed complaints with data watchdogs in Austria, France, Greece, Italy and the UK. They urge regulators to declare that Clearview’s practices “have no place in Europe”.

Clearview, which scrapes photos from social media accounts with the goal of helping law enforcement agencies, has come under increased scrutiny in Europe. The UK privacy commissioner and its Australian counterpart last year opened a joint probe into how its facial-recognition technology uses people’s data.

“Extracting our unique facial features or even sharing them with the police and other companies goes far beyond what we could ever expect as online users,” Ioannis Kouvakas, legal officer at Privacy International, said in a joint statement on Thursday.

New York-based Clearview didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment outside regular office hours.

The official body that represents data watchdogs from the 27-nation European Union have said they are “particularly concerned” by certain developments in facial-recognition technology and by the “unprecedented” issues raised for data protection.

Sweden’s data regulator has fined the nation’s police authority for using Clearview’s technology to identify people, saying law enforcement agents had “unlawfully processed biometric data for facial recognition” and failed to do “a data protection impact assessment”. – Bloomberg

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