French privacy authority demands Clearview AI flush facial recognition data gathered within...

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,491   +1,040
Staff member
A hot potato: Clearview AI is again under fire for scraping personal information and pictures from the internet. This time, a French regulator is demanding that it delete all data on French nationals stored in the company's database. The commission threatens hefty fines if Clearview does not comply.

On Thursday, France's privacy watchdog, the Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL), demanded that Clearview AI delete all data it has on French citizens. The regulator alleges that the company's data scraping practices violate the GDPR and other data accessing laws. If Clearview does not comply, the CNIL threatens the highest fines European law allows.

Clearview will likely fight the mandate as it has always maintained that it is within its rights to collect publicly available data from the internet. Indeed, Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That holds to his strongly held belief that his methods are legal and beneficial.

“We only collect public data from the open internet and comply with all standards of privacy and law,” Ton-That told TechCrunch in a written statement regarding France's demand. “My intentions and those of my company have always been to help communities and their people to live better, safer lives.”

The facial recognition company stirred up controversy last year when the New York Times exposed that Clearview scraped user data from social media websites. All the major social media platforms dogpiled on the startup, demanding it cease stealing users' pictures and other personal information. At the time, company owner and CEO Hoan Ton-That said that he only collects publicly available dat, which resides in a secured database shared only with law enforcement agencies that use the company's face recognition platform.

Privacy advocates argue that while Ton-That's data collection might not be illegal, it is unethical. They are also concerned that the images and personal information could end up in the wrong hands. Indeed, shortly after Ton-That defended his company on CBS This Morning in February 2020 (above), someone gained "unauthorized access" to Clearview's database.

France is only the latest country to mandate Clearview purge its systems of its citizens' data. In May, five countries, including the UK, France, Austria, Italy, and Greece, filed formal legal complaints against the startup with several EU privacy regulators. Just last month, Australia joined the fight, mandating the company delete any data collected from its people.

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Dimitriid

Posts: 2,202   +4,236
So many governments listed and apparently they can't stop one tiny, crappy corporation.

Makes you wonder how exactly do they plan to stop actually big companies like oil ones, makes you think all those climate agreements are pretty pointless if the power of the State they supposedly command cannot even put a fast and immediate stop this despite the orders and empty threats.
 

Michael7

Posts: 95   +91
This company should be prohibited and heavily fined for its actions until they stop. How is it still allowed to operate?
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,752   +7,666
That CEO should be arrested and all their properties seized until the demand is met .... It isn't hard but that government needs to grow an extra large set .....
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,400   +5,119
The technology exists, that's all that matters. The only difference here is that we know about it. Making it illegal won't destroy it.
 

Austinturner

Posts: 351   +452
So many governments listed and apparently they can't stop one tiny, crappy corporation.

Makes you wonder how exactly do they plan to stop actually big companies like oil ones, makes you think all those climate agreements are pretty pointless if the power of the State they supposedly command cannot even put a fast and immediate stop this despite the orders and empty threats.
Obviously that is because the company operates from the US and they aren’t taking action against them, we don’t have jurisdiction over data on our own citizens because it was shipped offshore by social media companies, clearview etc.

It should mean the company ends up not being able to set up any local entities in any of our countries which is beneficial for a start.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,202   +4,236
Obviously that is because the company operates from the US and they aren’t taking action against them, we don’t have jurisdiction over data on our own citizens because it was shipped offshore by social media companies, clearview etc.

It should mean the company ends up not being able to set up any local entities in any of our countries which is beneficial for a start.

Ironically enough I think this is basically a tax haven backdoor which should also explain why nobody is serious about putting a stop to it: It means almost all corporations would have to you know...Start paying taxes and they can't have that.
 

BuckarooBonzai

Posts: 97   +65
Good luck with this. Like anything else someone will always have the data no matter what. Once it starts it will not end. Once it started backups were probably made, a backup to the backup to the ...Clearview AI had probably already consulted with their lawyers, and the reason why the CEO will not comply with France.
 
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Austinturner

Posts: 351   +452
Ironically enough I think this is basically a tax haven backdoor which should also explain why nobody is serious about putting a stop to it: It means almost all corporations would have to you know...Start paying taxes and they can't have that.
I don’t follow at all, a country can’t act against a purely foreign entity because it would involve breaching sovereignty. The French government can’t walk into the US and arrest someone who collects data on the French, the US can’t walk into France and arrest someone who runs a service collecting data on Americans. Both would be attacks on each other’s sovereignty. The countries agree to extradition of their citizens but only when they agree there is sufficient evidence a serious crime has been committed and breaching privacy regulations is not likely to be agreed as individual criminal liability for the CEO etc.
 

Watzupken

Posts: 597   +500
It is easy to give information/ data, but never easy to get it back. So people should always consider carefully what they are giving out. And quite frankly, there is not much that any government can do when individuals are more than happy to share their information.
 

Michael7

Posts: 95   +91
This company CEO's bullshit explanation is the prime example of why nobody should ever post their photos on social media. Certainly the people that made such a mistake did not realize or agreed to be inserted in a database made available to law enforcement agencies and whoever pays Clearview AI for the access not to mention hacker groups to whom it is also a very attractive target.
 

Underdog

Posts: 262   +156
It is easy to give information/ data, but never easy to get it back. So people should always consider carefully what they are giving out. And quite frankly, there is not much that any government can do when individuals are more than happy to share their information.
People who spend all their free time posting everything in their lives, even their lunch, for the world to see on the internet have only themselves to blame. They make it increasingly easier to become victims of identity theft and cry big crocodile tears when they find someone has taken out loans using their data, etc. Engaging with "social" media like they do should require some sort of awareness training so they know where all this **** can lead.
 

yRaz

Posts: 4,400   +5,119
People who spend all their free time posting everything in their lives, even their lunch, for the world to see on the internet have only themselves to blame. They make it increasingly easier to become victims of identity theft and cry big crocodile tears when they find someone has taken out loans using their data, etc. Engaging with "social" media like they do should require some sort of awareness training so they know where all this **** can lead.
If they work with law enforcement, who's to say governments don't give them your driver's license photos and info? I do lots of work in secure areas, maybe they have the picture on my ID badge?