Clearview stuffs new board with police, military and government faces
Controversial facial recognition service firm Clearview AI has enlisted an advisory board to guide product development and ethics.
The ethics end of things should keep the board busy. Clearview has amassed billions of face photos in a biometric database primarily by scraping images from social media sites (that prohibit such activity).
After loose use policies early on in the young startup’s existence, company executives say they sell subscriptions only to governments and, specifically, law enforcement agencies.
Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Clearview by people who say their biometric data is being used by the company for its profit and without their permission. Still, the company has attracted venture funding.
A press release announcing the board is bold enough to lead the list of advisors with Raymond Kelly, a former New York City police commissioner. Kelly continues to be criticized for governing behind closed doors.
The city’s infamous stop-and-frisk policy, begun under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, was beefed up under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his police commissioner, Kelly. That the policy effectively targeted young Black men for searches on city streets without warrants was never seriously argued by officials.
Attorney Floyd Abrams is on the board.
While Abrams defended The New York Times against White House censorship during the Pentagon Papers battle, he also represented Citizens United before the U.S. Supreme Court. That case, decided in favor of Citizen United, has made it legal for businesses and advocacy groups to spend unlimited money on elections.
Perhaps less controversial to some, Richard Clarke is on the board. He worked in national security roles for 30 years under Republican and Democratic presidents.
Besides becoming a frequent cable news commentator after 9/11, Clarke won notoriety for poking holes in homeland security conventional wisdom and trying to gore some sacred cows in the then-developing digital security field.
The chief compliance officer of a health benefits firm, Sarah Schott, also was recruited. So was Rudy Washington, New York City’s deputy mayor for community development and business services from 1996 to 2001.
The board, which includes others, is designed to make Clearview more mainstream in its goals to make every face available for online scrutiny. It also is a nod to police, military and other government officials to whom Clearview wants to sell service subscriptions.