|Clearview AI's app is capable of identifying anyone’s identity, personal information, and life history / Credits: Andriy Popov via 123RF|
Facial recognition is one of the most commonly used technologies, particularly in law enforcement. Police officers are using it to solve crimes and find missing persons and suspects. With the increasing sophistication of facial recognition, companies and startups are heavily investing in developing tools that use the technology, including Clearview AI.
Recently, Clearview AI has been receiving criticism due to an app they developed. According to CNET, an American media website that publishes reviews, news, articles, blogs, podcasts, and videos on technology and consumer electronics globally, the app works by comparing a photo to a database and find its matches. Through it, anyone can be easily identified. Reports showed that the Clearview app has helped law enforcement officers solve crimes such as shoplifting, murder, child sexual exploitation, and more.
However, privacy advocates are against the app, warning people that it could return false matches to police and that it could also be used by stalkers and others. Through the app, anyone’s identity, personal information, and life history could be pulled up and exposed. "This is a disturbing demonstration of the dangerous reality of face recognition technology today, and the urgent need for lawmakers to immediately halt law enforcement use of it,” Nathan Freed Wessler, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) staff attorney, said.
According to Mashable, a global, multi-platform media and entertainment company, the app uses a database with millions of images scraped off Facebook, Venmo, YouTube and other sites. Clearview stated that there’s nothing to worry about because it only uses publicly available images. However, the US House Oversight Committee still held its third hearing on facial recognition to address the tech's use in public spaces by both private companies and government agencies.
"We're going to have to really grapple with what are the parameters of protecting the privacy and controlling the use of this technology," Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat from Virginia, said.