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Facial recognition company Clearview AI found to be breaching privacy laws

France’s data privacy watchdog, CNIL, has ordered facial recognition company Clearview AI to stop collecting and using data from people across the country. Globally, Clearview AI is thought to have collected as many as 10 billion images of people.

Publishing a formal demand in mid-December, CNIL said that Clearview AI’s collection of publicly available facial images from social media platforms and elsewhere online breached the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Clearview AI is used by a search engine by global law enforcement and intelligence agencies to help identify persons of interest in their investigations. However, its database for people living in France will no longer be updated after CNIL found Clearview AI had failed to gather consent to collect the images of those concerned.

In a statement announcing its demand, CNIL said: “These biometric data are particularly sensitive, notably because they are linked to our physical identity (what we are) and allow us to be identified in a unique way.”

CNIL also found that Clearview AI didn’t give people adequate access to their data by:

  • Limiting people to two requests per year to view the data held about them
  • Limiting the data available to only that collected in the 12 months before the request was made

The GDPR gives anyone living in the European Union the right to request their data be removed from privately-owned databases. CNIL has given Clearview AI two months to confirm action has been taken and that it is abiding by its demand or face the threat of financial sanctions.

CNIL’s demand comes following several complaints about Clearview AI, including from Privacy International.

Elsewhere, the Australian Information Commissioner has made a similar demand of Clearview AI. At the same time, here in the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said in November it would fine Clearview AI £17 million for breaches of data protection laws.

These cases against Clearview AI come at a time when facial recognition technology is already under the spotlight. Back in October, the use of facial recognition technology in schools across the UK was halted almost as soon as it began after the ICO got involved. On a global scale, Facebook withdrew facial recognition from its platform during the final months of 2021.

Has Clearview AI collected or held your data without permission? You could be entitled to compensation

If you’ve had difficulty in getting Clearview AI to share the data it holds about you, or delete it following a request, then you could be entitled to compensation.

Contact LawPlus today to tell us about your experiences of dealing with Clearview AI and get a free, no-obligation assessment of your potential claim.


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