Disclosure sought on Clearview facial recognition use and by company in separate cases
A freedom of speech group in the U.S. has filed Freedom of Information Act requests seeking details about the use of Clearview AI’s facial recognition by the Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S. Army (CID). At the same time in Illinois, a judge is deciding whether the company’s requests for details from plaintiffs in a biometric data privacy constitute harassment.
The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University has filed the FOIA request seeking information about Clearview biometrics were used by the CID, which acknowledged use of the app, but not how or why. Publicly available data suggests multiple licenses were purchased by the CID, and used to perform more than 1,300 facial recognition searches, but the purpose of those searches and any procedural guidelines or policies are unknown, the organization says in a blog post.
In another request related to social media surveillance, the Knight Institute is also seeking information on the use of Twitter surveillance tool Dataminr and social media monitoring service ZeroFox by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
The Knight Institute claims that internal documents undermine claims by the FBI’s director that the use of technologies for surveillance of social media is limited, and points out that six federal agencies used facial recognition software to investigate protests and riots following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
BIPA discovery battle
Clearview is asking a judge to force plaintiffs in a suit under Illinois’ Biometric Information Protection Act (BIPA) to reveal information about their use of privacy limits available to them on the social media sites their images were published on, and reject their attempts to rebuff discovery.
The plaintiffs have asserted that Clearview’s requests are an attempt “to harass, intimidate and unduly burden Plaintiffs,” and that they are “irrelevant,” but without providing evidence that the requests are any of these things, according to the defence motion. On the contrary, according to Clearview, defendants “plac(ed) no privacy or other restrictions on how third-parties could use those photographs.”
Clearview filed the motion of discovery to ascertain what, if any restrictions had been placed on the images to protect their privacy more than four months ago, according to the latest filing. The motion by the plaintiffs, Clearview says, are an attempt to block it from discovery necessary to its defense.
Facebook and LinkedIn have both denied suffering any Clearview-related data breaches, and characterized the scraped data as “public.”