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Clearview AI makes face biometrics service available to Ukraine Ministry of Defense

Database holds 2B images from Russian social media
Clearview AI makes face biometrics service available to Ukraine Ministry of Defense

Clearview AI is providing its facial recognition to the Ukrainian defense ministry to assist in identifying people, possibly at checkpoints or to identify the deceased, Reuters reports.

The biometric app was offered up free of service by Clearview to assist Ukrainians with identification and combatting misinformation in a letter from CEO Hoan Ton-That. Advisor Lee Wolosky told Reuters that it could be used to vet people at checkpoints, among other applications.

It is not clear exactly what Clearview’s facial recognition is being used for at this time.

The company says it has more than 2 billion images from Russian social media site VKontakte among its database of 10 billion photos.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation previously said that it was weighing offers of support from American artificial intelligence providers, but the country’s Ministry of Defense declined to comment.

Ton-That wrote in the letter, seen by Reuters, that Clearview’s facial recognition could identify deceased people more easily than fingerprint biometrics, and would work even if the victims had sustained facial injuries, and also suggested the use of the app for reuniting families torn apart by the war. He also suggested using it to identify Russian operatives.

Ton-That and Wolosky said that Ukrainian government agencies beyond the Ministry of Defense are expected to deploy Clearview in the near future. Wolosky also said Clearview’s VKontakte images give it a larger database than that of PimEyes, which has been used to identify people shown in photos of that war.

The same offer has not been extended to Russia.

Clearview has been attempting to reform an image battered by accusations of “mass surveillance” and of violating the terms and conditions of social media networks like Twitter in violation of the privacy of their users. It is also facing a growing list of fines from regulators.

The company submitted its biometric algorithm to the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology’s FRVT benchmarking evaluation and claimed high marks in accuracy and racial parity, emphasized its role in identifying participants in the riot at the U.S. capitol on January 6, 2021.

Ton-That told Reuters that Clearview’s service should never be solely relied on for identification, and that the company expects its technology to be used in compliance with the Geneva Convention. The report also notes that civil society group the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project warns that technologies introduced on the battlefield are prone to misuse.

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