From the pursuit of suspects wanted by the police to the search for patients whom the doctors do not yet know. The controversial Clearview facial recognition start-up is taking advantage of the Covid-19 epidemic to diversify and improve its image.
Presented by The New York Times earlier this year as ” the secret enterprise that may well change privacy as we know it “, It would be, according to the” Wall Street Journal “, in discussion with several American health agencies to help them trace the recent movements of infected patients and identify those who are likely to have been in contact with the first.
And she’s not the only one. In a promotional video, a Texas surveillance camera manufacturer, Athena Security, which specializes in signaling firearms, now boasts of the capabilities of its algorithms to detect feverish passers-by. Still in the United States, Palantir contacted the center for disease control and prevention.
Funded at its creation by secret agents of the CIA and now also very active with the civilian world, the specialist in the investigation and analysis of very large amounts of data makes it a point to detect the weak signals of the epidemic. Its algorithms are based on citizens’ conversations via SMS and Twitter, among others. The technique had already identified new sources of contamination during the cholera epidemic in Haiti in 2010.
The Israeli group NSO Group told him to develop its first technology for civilian use in order to map the extent of the epidemic. Known to have developed the Pegasus software suspected of having spied on the smartphone of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi, the company is already working with a dozen countries, according to the Bloomberg agency. His expertise in remote spinning via smartphones allows him to trace the movements of a carrier of the virus over the last fifteen days.
Defended by doctors and researchers from the University of Oxford, this technique of “contact research” via mobile technologies also poses many questions regarding the respect of the privacy of patients and their more or less distant entourage.
In France, the CNIL recalls that the collection of health data is a prerogative of the official health services. ” The assessment and collection of information relating to the symptoms of coronavirus and information on the recent movements of certain persons is the responsibility of these public authorities “, she says.