Facebook adds itself to the list of companies demanding Clearview cease scraping its websites

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,526   +575
Staff member

Facebook has become the latest company to "demand" that Clearview AI stop scraping its platforms for its facial recognition database. The social media giant has sent the company several letters asking it to stop using user data from Facebook and Instagram but has not yet issued a formal cease and desist letter.

"Scraping people's information violates our policies," a spokesperson for Facebook told CBSNews on Thursday. "Which is why we've demanded that Clearview stop accessing or using information from Facebook or Instagram."

Facebook has not decided whether to take its demand to the next level yet, but other companies already have. Twitter sent Clearview a C&D letter in January. YouTube and Google have also issued legal warnings to the startup earlier this week.

Clearview's database contains more than three billion images obtained from the internet. Its intended purpose is to aid law enforcement in identifying suspects in crimes or other "persons of interest."

The company maintains that it is above-board on the data that it collects. Clearview AI CEO Hoan Tan-That said in an interview, "If it's public, you know, and it's out there, it could be inside Google search engine, it can be inside ours as well."

As Google pointed out, there is a big difference between indexing websites, which it does with the website owner's permission, and scraping images and information on private individuals without their consent.

"Comparisons to Google Search are inaccurate. Most websites want to be included in Google Search, and we give webmasters control over what information from their site is included in our search results, including the option to opt-out entirely. Clearview secretly collected image data of individuals without their consent and in violation of rules explicitly forbidding them from doing so."

Tan-That also claims his company's practices are protected by the First Amendment, a claim that he will likely have to prove in court if the situation escalates.

It is easy to forget that the Bill of Rights is a set of restrictions placed on the government to protect the people. The First Amendment restricts the government from enacting laws or taking action that infringes on the individual's freedom of speech. It does not mention any other types of impediments, such as a company adding restrictions to the language used on its premises or platform.

In this case, Clearview collects data without the individual's knowledge or permission, and it ultimately ends up in the hands of the government (law enforcement). One could easily argue the company's data collection is a violation of a person's Fourth Amendment right to privacy and protection from illegal search and seizure.

If Clearview AI persists, it will very likely end up in court with a very shaky Constitutional defense. ZDNet notes, the startup is already facing a class-action lawsuit in Illinois for violating the state's Biometric Information Privacy Act. We'll have to wait and see just how many legal challenges the company is willing or able to withstand.

Editorial credit: Frederic Legrand - COMEO via Shutterstock

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psycros

Posts: 3,187   +3,373
"As Google pointed out, there is a big difference between indexing websites, which it does with the website owner's permission, and scraping images and information on private individuals without their consent."

Search engines have NEVER asked permission first - their web crawling is 100% opt-OUT, assuming you even CAN opt out. However, very few sites wouldn't want to be indexed by the biggest search engines.
 

Getgone

Posts: 44   +65
"As Google pointed out, there is a big difference between indexing websites, which it does with the website owner's permission, and scraping images and information on private individuals without their consent."

Search engines have NEVER asked permission first - their web crawling is 100% opt-OUT, assuming you even CAN opt out. However, very few sites wouldn't want to be indexed by the biggest search engines.
You have to register your website in search engine.
 

Freddie159

Posts: 62   +24
That's funny FaceBook asking some website to stop taking things without permission!!! LOL!!! FaceBook takes EVERYTHING off my computer and I have zero say except to not use FaceBook in it's entirety!! FaceBook MAKES MONEY off MY data and now some company is doing the same thing to FaceBook and THEY are upset!! The funny thing is FaceBook was one of the first companies to do this and even now are the biggest scraper of data from porn sites, this company just took it to a new level!! This should have been predictable by FaceBook and others as there is ALWAYS someone smarter out there!! A warning to businesses....just because you can doesn't mean you should as someone will do it to YOU some day!!
 

Capaill

Posts: 1,200   +737
Clearview just need to create some silly FB app that tells people what flower they are by answering 5 simple questions. Once the app is installed, Clearview gets full access to that person's complete dataset, including photos and friend details. It's how most companies collect data off Facebook users.
 
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