Clearview AI, Facial Recognition Company That Works With Law Enforcement, Says Entire Client List Was Stolen

Clearview AI, Facial Recognition Company That Works With Law Enforcement, Says Entire Client List Was Stolen

Clearview AI
Clearview AI, which contracts with law enforcement after reportedly scraping 3B images from the web, says someone got “unauthorized access” to its customer list. Photo: MMG

Clearview AI has contracts with more than 2,200 law enforcement agencies across the world from to FBI to ICE to Interpol and now someone got “unauthorized access” to its list of customers.

“Clearview’s software, which claims to match photos of persons of interest to online images culled from millions of sites, has been used by people in more than 2,200 law enforcement departments, government agencies, and companies across 27 countries, according to the documents. This data provides the most complete picture to date of who has used the controversial technology and reveals what some observers have previously feared: Clearview AI’s facial recognition has been deployed at every level of American society and is making its way around the world,” BuzzFeed reported.

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Clearview AI has disclosed to its customers that an intruder “gained unauthorized access” not only to its list of customers but also to the number of user accounts those customers had set up and to searches its customers have conducted. The company said it has already fixed the vulnerability and that the intruder did not obtain any law-enforcement agencies’ search histories. 

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Still, the incident points to the vulnerability of such programs. 

“Security is Clearview’s top priority,” he said in a statement provided to The Daily Beast. “Unfortunately, data breaches are part of life in the 21st century. Our servers were never accessed. We patched the flaw, and continue to work to strengthen our security.”

According to The New York Times front-page story about Clearview, the company scraped 3 billion images from the Internet, including from Facebook, YouTube, and Venmo. 

“That process violated Facebook’s terms of service, according to the paper. It also created a resource that drew the attention of hundreds of law-enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, according to that report. In a follow-up story, the Times reported that law-enforcement officials have used the tools to identify children who are victims of sexual abuse,” Daily Beast reported.

Privacy advocates have long spoken out against facial-recognition technology which matches photos of unidentified victims or suspects against databases of photos. 

Some lawmakers, including Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, were upset with the database hack.

“Shrugging and saying data breaches happen is cold comfort for Americans who could have their information spilled out to hackers without their consent or knowledge,” he told BuzzFeed News. “Companies that scoop up and market vast troves of information, including facial recognition products, should be held accountable if they don’t keep that information safe.”