Apple has disabled developer accounts at Facial Recognition Technology start-up Clearview AI and disabled its iOS app, according tomedia outlet AppleInsider, saying it violated the terms of the tech giant’s agreement with corporate developers. Apple confirmed the effective ban On Friday amid controversy over Clearview’s operating practices and business model, BuzzFeed News reported.
In January, the New York Times outlined the technology in a comprehensive report, collecting publicly available photos from the web, some from social media sites, to support facial recognition products ostensibly sold only to law enforcement agencies. The company has accumulated billions of photos and is currently working with more than 2,200 organizations around the world, the report said.
The company appears to be using Apple’s enterprise developer program as an alternative to the App Store review. Earlier this week, BuzzFeed News reported that Clearview was using corporate certificate privileges to distribute its iOS app to private companies including Macy’s, Wal-Mart and the NBA, in clear violation of Apple’s policies.
Apple’s developer enterprise version can only be used to distribute apps within a company, an Apple spokesman said in a statement.
TechCrunch said Friday that it has found Clearview’s app in a publicly accessible Amazon S3 bucket, and that anyone with knowledge of the site can download, install and use the software. However, Apple revoked Clearview’s certificate, rendering the application unusable. The facial recognition company has also come under fire for a data breach, with its entire customer list hacked.
Apple has in the past found that big technology companies violated its corporate planning rules. Last year, both Facebook and Google were stripped of their certificates for distributing “research” apps to the public.