2022 – Face recognition companies must look in the mirror | John Notting

TheLast week, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) imposed a £7.5m fine on a small tech company called Clearview-AI for “using images of people in the UK and elsewhere, collected from the internet and social media”. A global online database that can be used for facial recognition.” The ICO also issued an executive notice directing the company to stop collecting and using personal information of UK residents that is publicly available online and to delete UK resident information from its systems.

Since Clearview AI isn’t exactly a household name, some background information may be helpful. It is an American company that has “collected” (i.e. digitally collected) more than 20 billion images of faces from publicly available information on the Internet and social media platforms around the world to create an online database. The company uses this database to offer a service that allows customers to upload someone’s photo to its app, which is then checked against all the photos in the database. The app creates a list of images that have similar characteristics to the image the customer provided, along with a link to the websites where those images came from. Clearview describes its business as “building a safer world, one face at a time.”

The downside is that the people whose photos make up the database have never been told that their photos were collected or used in this way, and they certainly never consented to their being used in this way. Hence the work of the ICO.

Most of us didn’t hear about Clearview until January 2021, when Kashmir Hill, a journalist specializing in fine technology, revealed its presence in The New York Times. It was founded by a tech entrepreneur named Hoan Tun That and Richard Schwartz, who was an advisor to Rudy Giuliani when he was mayor of New York and was still a respected one. The idea was that Ton-That would oversee the creation of a powerful facial recognition app, while Schwartz would use its bloated Rolodex to generate commercial interest.

It didn’t take Schwartz long to realize that law enforcement in the United States would be on the mend like wild wolves. According to Hill’s report, the Indiana Police Department was the company’s first customer. In February 2019, the case was resolved in 20 minutes. Two men got into a fight in a garden that ended with the other being shot in the stomach. A bystander recorded the crime on a smartphone, giving police a still image of the shooter’s face to be played through the Clearview app. They immediately got a match. The man appeared in a video someone posted on social media and his name was mentioned in a comment on the video. Bingo!

Clearview’s marketing presentation played at Law Enforcement Gallery: Spread, with the left page bearing the slogan “Stop Searching.” Start the solution on Helvetica Bold with 95 points. Below is a list of annual subscription options – everything from $10,000 for five users to $250,000 for 500. But the motivation was that there was always a trial subscription option somewhere that one administrator could use to find out whether the thing works.

The basic strategy was smart. corporate sale Fourthly Companies from abroad difficult. But if you can get a knowledgeable person, even a relatively young one, to try your stuff out and find it useful, you’re halfway to a sale. This is how Peter Thiel paid the Pentagon to buy his company Palantir’s data analysis software. He initially persuaded middle-ranking military officers to give it a try, knowing that they would eventually get to their superiors. from the inside. And imagine what? Thiel was an early investor in Clearview.

It is unclear how many customers the company has. Internal company documents were leaked to Buzzfeed in 2020, indicating that by that time, people associated with 2,228 law enforcement agencies, businesses, and organizations had created accounts and collectively conducted nearly 500,000 searches—tracked and logged by the company. In the United States, the majority of institutional purchases came from local and state police departments. Overseas, leaked documents suggested Clearview had expanded to at least 26 countries outside the US, including the UK, where it was (possibly unauthorized) by dead officials, the National Crime Agency and police forces in Northamptonshire, North Yorkshire, Suffolk , Surrey and Hampshire were recorded by Clearview servers.

Law firm responds to ICO fine, Clearview officials said the fine was “legally incorrect” because the firm is no longer operating in the UK and “is not under the jurisdiction of the ICO”. we will see. However, what is indisputable is that many of the images in the company’s database are taken from social media users who are believed to be in the UK and have not given their consent. Even two cheers for the initial coin offering.

what I read

big shift
About These Ukrainian Tractors Diverted to Kill is a bitter Medium blog post by Cory Doctorow about John Deere’s power to shut down not only the tractors the Russians stole from Ukraine, but also the tractors bought by American farmers.

out of control
The Perpetual Pandemic is a factual article on Harper’s by Justin E. H. Smith asks whether the controls that have been legitimized by the fight against COVID will ever be relaxed.

Right to bear arms?
In Heather Cox Richardson’s Substack newsletter on “The Right to Bear Arms,” ​​the historian reflects on how the second modification of the shape was modified to meet the needs of the gun lobby.