News article by Andrew Tarantola.
Published by Engadget.
The surveillance system offers police unprecedented surveillance power.
When London’s Metropolitan Police Department announced its decision to adopt the controversial and intrusive ClearView AI surveillance system at the end of January, a global cacophony of protest erupted. Concerns, fear and trepidation surrounding facial recognition technologies, especially those like Clearview which can ID people in real-time, have been simmering for decades, but the Met’s decision has finally caused public outrage to boil over. But how did we even get to the point where a relatively unknown startup managed to enact one of tentpoles of futuristic dystopia and begin marketing it to aspiring dictatorial regimes, all while earning the wrath of national governments and tech industry titans alike?
Clearview AI was founded in 2017 by Richard Schwartz and now-CEO Hoan Ton-That. The company counts Peter Thiel and AngelList founder Naval Ravikant among its investors. Clearview’s technology is actually quite simple: Its facial recognition algorithm compares the image of a person’s face from security camera footage to an existing database of potential matches. Marketed primarily to law enforcement agencies, the Clearview app allows users to take and upload a picture of a person then view all of the public images of that person as well as links to where those photos were published. Basically, if you’re caught on camera anywhere in public, local law enforcement can use that image to mine your entire online presence for information about you, effectively ending any semblance of personal privacy. [ . . . ]