U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey wants Clearview AI, a controversial facial recognition app, to provide answers to some of the questions,media reported. The congressman noted that the app is being marketed to foreign markets under authoritarian regimes and may also be collecting and processing images of children from social media platforms.
“The report shows that Clearview has provided its software to institutions in countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which are ruled by dictatorships and have a poor human rights record,” Markey wrote in a letter to Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That. Even in a democracy with strong civil liberties, the use of complex facial recognition technology is a concern, and its exports to certain countries may make it possible to monitor and suppress minorities on a large scale. “
In the letter, he also noted that Clearview’s collection of photos of children on Facebook violated U.S. federal law to protect children’s privacy.
Markey, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, questioned whether Clearview planned to sell its technology outside the United States and how the company would ensure that it would not be used to suppress or abuse human rights. Whether Clearview has taken steps to ensure it complies with children’s online privacy laws and whether any facial images were stolen during the recent Clearview AI database hack.
Clearview AI identifies users by comparing photos with image databases collected from social media and other websites. The company came under fire after a New York Times investigation into Clearview AI. At the end of January, Markey called Clearview AI a chilling privacy risk. Since then, Google, YouTube, Microsoft and Twitter have issued a stop notice to Clearview AI, and the company has faced multiple lawsuits.
On Thursday, BuzzFeed news reported that Clearview’s customers include not only law enforcement agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, the Justice Department, Customs and Border Protection, but Macy’s, Verizon, T-Mobile, las Vegas Sands. Retailers such as Sands, Wal-Mart and Kohl’s. In addition, the report states that Clearview AI’s services have been extended to Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, India, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Swedish and Swiss law enforcement agencies.
Later Tuesday, the U.S. House Of Science, Space and Technology Committee also released a letter to clearview AI CEO expressing deep concern over reports that the company’s database had been hacked.
“Despite serious privacy concerns, Clearview AI’s work seems to be rarely monitored by the government,” the letter, signed by Eddie Bernice Johnson and Frank D. Lucas, reads. How implant companies collect, use, and protect U.S. citizen data. “
It is understood that the Committee hopes to have answers to these questions by 17 March.