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Legal fight against Clearview AI’s facial recognition service grows

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Demographic groups are joining states and nations in demanding that Clearview AI end its massive face-scraping biometric service.

Two California grassroots organizations, both primarily or partly focused on fighting oppression of people of color and immigrants, claim in a new lawsuit that Clearview’s subscription service is illegal and unconstitutional in the state.

The case, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, names six plaintiffs, NorCal Resist, Mijente and four individuals. Their target is Clearview AI, which has created a growing, 3 billion-photo biometric dataset largely gathered by scraping pictures of individuals from public social media accounts.

NorCal Resist advocates primarily for immigrant communities in Northern California. Mijente focuses entirely on issues relevant to Latinx and Chicanx populations in and beyond California. The individuals are described in a media release as people active in political groups critical of police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Besides a simple violation of people’s privacy, a facial recognition service like Clearview AI’s — which is marketed to law enforcement agencies — will scare people from participating lawful protests guaranteed in the state and federal constitutions, they allege.

The plaintiffs want an immediate injunction that would end Clearview AI’s collection of Californians’ biometric data and that would force it to delete its stores of facial scans and other personal data of state residents.

Seventh Circuit denies stay

A motion filed by Clearview to have a lawsuit against it under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act postponed, pending a Supreme Court challenge of a previous ruling on plaintiffs’ standing, has been rejected, Reuters reports.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals delivered a one-word denial of the motion, which Clearview filed to stop the remand of the case to state court.

A briefing from plaintiffs’ attorneys opposing the stay said it would be “bizarre” for a class action defendant to petition the Supreme Court to allow it to be sued for mere statutory violations in federal court.

Illinois federal judge Sharon Johnson Coleman has also appointed an interim lead counsel in the multidistrict litigation, selecting Loevy & Loevy Data Privacy and Cyberintelligence Group Head Scott Drury based on his role so far and his experience arguing cases under BIPA, Reuters separately writes.

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