Controversy With Leading Facial Recognition Company Clearview Deepens As Firm Fined $9.5M For Breaching Privacy

The United Kingdom is in no mood of playing games with Clearview as the leading facial recognition company was recently fined a staggering $9.5 million (£7.5m) for privacy breaches.

The news comes from one of the country’s leading data protection bodies who sent out a confirmation regarding the report for the penalty.

But the bad news for the AI-powered firm didn’t stop there as they also received another enforcement notice that would need to be implemented with immediate effect. This had to do with asking the firm to stop sharing any data of UK-based residents as well as making sure that the personal data was not used.

Similarly, they were informed to stop taking data available on the web, and whatever records of citizens that were fed into their systems needed to be deleted without further delay.

With a database comprising more than 20 billion facial images by simply striking it off the web, this US-based firm has been accused of making a giant platform that is used to link an identity matching business that is AI-powered. It further sells these services to different stakeholders such as law enforcement agencies who use the information to solve cases relating to crime.

But the major issue here is that the company has failed to take consent from day one. Never has it ever asked users for permission for their selfies and as you can imagine, that’s a huge breach of privacy in different countries around the world.

Today, we saw the UK’s information leader John Edwards mention how multiple pictures were currently in their database, which it had taken from different websites including those of social media platforms. However, the fury didn’t end there as Edwards spoke about how the firm could even monitor the behavior of users and was even selling these functionalities as services to others.

This was a justification for why they’ve decided to penalize the company for their audacity, calling their actions unacceptable in regards to privacy laws.

The fact that there are millions of social media and internet users in the United Kingdom means the country would be at the leading front in terms of the number of citizens being affected by this privacy breach.

And while you may argue that Clearview fails to function in the UK, it still has so many clients around the world and that could mean they’re using the personal data of others from their database.

Last year in the fall, we heard rumors about how the company was in the hot seat for such behavior and that it could be penalized for its actions but we’re finally seeing that turn up in reality. Similarly, we also heard rumors about how the firm had been ordered to put a halt to its data processing services for UK clients and even eliminate any data records they might have about UK citizens but we’re now seeing them pay the price for not listening.

In the formal enforcement issued today by the UK to Clearview, all the findings that were first outlined at the start were confirmed about the company’s breaching of legal matters.

This included a range of crimes like collecting citizens’ data without consent, failing to use records in a manner that was transparent, and a failure of getting rid of any data that was retained inside their systems. But that was just the start of a long list of other privacy breaches that we witnessed being outlined under the EU Data Protection and Act.

We think one thing that the company should be mindful of is how the fine is much lower than what the ICO had announced last year in the provisional statement against Clearview.

We’re still waiting for the company to release its statement on the matter and until then, we’ll just have to wait patiently.

Vector gstudioimagen / freepik

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