Clearview AI, the maker of facial recognition software, on Monday settled a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and agreed to restrict its U.S. face database primarily to government agencies and disallow most U.S. companies. to access it.
Under the deal, which was filed with an Illinois state court, Clearview will not sell its database of what it claimed to be more than 20 billion facial photos to most individuals and businesses in the country. . But the company can still largely sell that database to federal and state agencies.
The deal is the last blow for the Start-up based in New York, which created its facial recognition software by extracting photos from the web and popular sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Clearview then sold its software to local police departments and government agencies, including the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
But its technology has been deemed illegal in Canada, Australia and parts of Europe for violating privacy laws. Clearview also addresses an interim fine of $ 22.6 million in Great Britainin addition to a fine of 20 million euros from the Italian Data Protection Agency.
“Clearview can no longer treat people’s unique biometric identifiers as an unlimited source of profit,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, ACLU’s deputy director of Speech, Privacy, and Technology, in a statement on the agreement. “Other companies would do well to take notice and other states should follow Illinois’ lead in enacting strong biometric privacy laws.”
Floyd Abrams, a First Amendment expert hired by Clearview to defend the company’s right to collect publicly available information and make it searchable, said the company is “happy to leave this litigation behind.”
“To avoid a protracted, costly and distracting legal dispute with the ACLU and others, Clearview AI has agreed to continue not providing its services to law enforcement in Illinois for a period of time,” he said.
The ACLU filed his lawsuit in May 2020 on behalf of groups representing victims of domestic violence, undocumented immigrants and prostitutes. The Clearview group accused it of violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, a state law that prohibits private individuals from using citizens’ body identifiers, including algorithmic maps of their faces, without consent.
“This is a great victory for the most vulnerable people in Illinois,” said Linda Xóchitl Tortolero, plaintiff in the case and head of Mujeres Latinas en Acción, a advocacy group for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. “For many Latinas, many who are undocumented and have low levels of IT or social media literacy, not understanding how technology can be used against you is a huge challenge.”
One of Clearview’s sales methods was to offer free trials to potential customers, including private companies, civil servants and police officers. Under the agreement, the company will have a more formal trial account process, ensuring that individual police officers have their employers’ permission to use the facial recognition app.
Clearview is also prohibited from selling to any Illinois-based entity, private or public, for five years as part of the agreement. After that, he can resume doing business with local or state law enforcement in the state, Wessler said.
In a key exception, Clearview will still be able to provide its database to US banks and financial institutions under a BIPA exclusion.
The deal does not mean that Clearview cannot sell any products to the companies. It will still be able to sell its facial recognition algorithm, without the 20 billion image database, to companies. Its algorithm helps to match people’s faces to any database provided by a client.
As part of the settlement, Clearview has not admitted any liability and agreed to pay $ 250,000 in legal fees to the plaintiffs. The agreement is subject to the approval of an Illinois state judge.