Controversial biometrics firm reports facial recognition client list breached
Clearview AI’s client information has been breached, after a third party gained “unauthorized access” to its full customer list, the number of user accounts and searches run, writes the Daily Beast, after reviewing a note Clearview AI sent customers.
The startup does not label the incident as a hack and says there was “no compromise of Clearview’s systems or network,” nor of law enforcement search histories. The vulnerability has been identified and patched.
“Security is Clearview’s top priority,” said company attorney Tor Ekeland in a statement provided to The Daily Beast. “Unfortunately, data breaches are part of life in the 21st century. Our servers were never accessed. We patched the flaw, and continue to work to strengthen our security.”
Whatever third party accessed the client list, it seems likely that more law enforcement agencies will soon publicly disclose that they have used Clearview’s technology.
The New York Times reported Clearview AI had scraped 3 billion images from the internet from sources such as Facebook and Twitter, violating their terms of service. The database attracted the attention of police departments across the U.S. and Canada, which started using the biometric technology to identify children who were victims of sexual abuse. A Canadian officer described the technology as “the biggest breakthrough in the last decade” for investigators.
Earlier this month, at the Legislator’s Committee of the New Jersey Assembly on Science, Innovation and Technology, Security Industry Association (SIA) Manager of Government Relations Drake Jamali testified to the importance of facial recognition as an investigative tool for law enforcement after use of Clearview was shut down by the State Attorney General. Canada’s Privacy Commissioners have launched a joint investigation into whether the actions of Clearview AI violate federal or provincial data protection statutes.
In an interview earlier this month with CBS This Morning, Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That claimed the First Amendment protects scraping of public biometric data.