Facial recognition: NGO group attacks Clearview AI in five European countries

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Paris (AFP)

A group of NGOs led by Privacy International announced on Thursday that they were seizing the authorities of several European countries including France against Clearview AI, an American start-up with facial recognition technology popular with police but controversial.

“The complaints were lodged with the data protection authorities in France, Greece, Austria, Italy and the United Kingdom”, explains Privacy International (PI), and relate in particular to the sale to police services of the Clearview AI facial recognition technology.

The British NGO says it relies on “evidence obtained by PI staff, through requests for the right to access data filed with the company, as well as technical and legal analyzes of the product. from Clearview “.

In France, the complaint was lodged with the CNIL, for violation of the “RGPD (the European legal device for data protection, editor’s note) and (of) the Data Protection Act”.

This is not the first time that Clearview AI has been denounced to the CNIL. In July 2020, a complaint was filed by the person in charge of privacy issues at the French start-up Jumbo Privacy, which offers recommendations to better control the use of his personal data.

Using an algorithm, these images are then processed to create a biometric database, access to which is sold “to the police and to private companies in various countries”, deplore the plaintiffs.

“European data protection law is very clear on the purposes for which a company can use our data”, observes Ioannis Kouvakas, lawyer at PI.

“Extracting our unique facial features, and sharing them with the police and other groups, goes completely against what an internet user would expect,” he adds.

British and Australian data protection regulators launched a joint investigation into the California company in July 2020.

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In February 2021, a report by the Canadian Privacy Commissioner’s Office found that she carried out illegal “mass surveillance” in Canada. The report noted that the US company had built a database of “over three billion face images.” The company withdrew from the Canadian market during the investigation.

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