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Clearview AI suggests its facial biometrics for contact tracing and requests stay in privacy lawsuits

Clearview AI suggests its facial biometrics for contact tracing and requests stay in privacy lawsuits

Clearview AI has communicated with federal and state authorities about using its technology to identify individuals as part of coronavirus contact-tracing systems, CEO Hoan Ton-That tells NBC News.

“If we are to open up the economy in a way that’s safe for everybody, then we need to be able to test quickly, and also trace, and find out who you’ve been in contact with,” Ton-That explains.

The system could leverage cameras already in place at gyms and retailers, where Ton-That says there is no expectation of privacy. Masks could impede recognition, but according Ton-That says that even with images from older cameras, Clearview has had success matching people with as few as 110 by 110 pixels of exposed face.

NBC spoke to Harvard Bioethics Professor I. Glenn Cohen about the idea, and he suggested that the privacy and social implications of tracking programs need to be worked out before they are adopted.

When asked if a system with Clearview as a layer would result in an entity holding a persons identity data along with their health and several months of location data, Ton-That said it is up to the implementing agency how the system works.

Advocacy group Fight for the Future responded with a statement panning the idea in expletive terms.

At the same time, Clearview is asking for a stay of a lawsuit against it from a federal court, on grounds that attorneys from New York and Chicago are contending to be lead plaintiff’s counsel, Law360 reports.

Lawsuits filed in Illinois alleging Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) violations should be transferred to the Southern District of New York, the company argues. The argument offered by the company is that four similar potential class actions have been filed in the New York district, and that it is the only court which undisputedly has jurisdiction over Clearview.

Plaintiff David Mutnick recently filed a claim of additional evidence in support for an earlier motion to force Clearview to delete images and stop collecting others.

Attorneys in New York have filed a motion asking to be appointed lead counsel on an interim basis, and Mutnick’s representation responded by requesting the New York proceedings be transferred to Illinois. Clearview opposes the latter move, and accused Mutnick of an “attempt to manufacture urgency.”

Clearview argues that if the proceedings are not stayed, it will be forced into duplicate proceedings, unnecessary filings and possibly inconsistent rulings in different jurisdictions.

“Regardless of the motivations behind Mutnick’s belated motion, the court and the parties should not expend their resources on briefing and a potential preliminary injunction hearing before the court decides the threshold issue of whether it has jurisdiction over the defendants,” Clearview’s representatives argue.

Mutnick’s claim has already been consolidated with another BIPA suit.

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