Senator fears Clearview AI facial recognition could possibly be used on protesters


Hundreds took half in Black Lives Matter protests in San Francisco on June 3. 

Jonathan Luskin/CNET

Sen. Edward Markey has raised considerations that police and regulation enforcement businesses have entry to controversial facial recognition app Clearview AI in cities the place individuals are protesting the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died two weeks in the past whereas within the custody of Minneapolis police.

Markey, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, stated Tuesday the expertise could possibly be used to determine and arrest protestors

“As demonstrators throughout the nation train their First Modification rights by protesting racial injustice, it is vital that regulation enforcement doesn’t use technological instruments to stifle free speech or endanger the general public,” Markey stated in a letter to Clearview AI CEO and co-founder Hoan Ton-That.

The specter of surveillance may additionally deter folks from “talking out in opposition to injustice for concern of being completely included in regulation enforcement databases,” he stated.

Markey, who has beforehand hammered Clearview AI over its gross sales to overseas governments, use by home regulation enforcement and use within the COVID-19 pandemic, is now asking the corporate for a listing of regulation enforcement businesses which have signed new contracts since Could 25, 2020.

It is also being requested if search site visitors on its database has elevated through the previous two weeks; whether or not it considers a regulation enforcement company’s “historical past of illegal or discriminatory policing practices” earlier than promoting the expertise to them; what course of it takes to provide away free trials; and whether or not it’ll prohibit its expertise from getting used to determine peaceable protestors.

Ton-That stated he’ll reply to the letter from Markey. “Clearview AI’s expertise is meant just for after-the-crime investigations, and never as a surveillance instrument regarding protests or beneath another circumstances,” he stated in an emailed assertion.

Clearview AI identifies folks by evaluating pictures to a database of photos scraped from social media and different websites. It got here beneath hearth after a New York Instances investigation into the software program firm, and in late January, Markey known as Clearview AI a “chilling” privateness threat. Since then, Google, YouTube, Microsoft and Twitter have despatched cease-and-desist letters to Clearview AI, and the corporate can be going through a number of lawsuits together with for allegedly taking these pictures with out folks’s consent.

Black Lives Matter protests are persevering with throughout the US and globally as folks display in opposition to the latest deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, and of systemic racism. 

Black Lives Matter. Go to to discover ways to donate, signal petitions and protest safely.

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