London tackles the dangers of facial recognition

US facial recognition company Clearview AI has been fined £7.5m (€8.75m) by the UK’s data protection watchdog over a series of breaches of local privacy laws.

Clearview AI has also been ordered to stop obtaining and using the personal data of UK residents publicly available on the internet and to delete such data from their systems.

“Billions of faces” registered and sold by an American company

The US company bills itself as ” the world’s largest facial network “, holding billions of face photographs from the internet, many of which have been scraped from social networks like Facebook.

The company then uses an artificial intelligence-based identity matching service that sells them to entities, such as law enforcement, without asking permission from the individual concerned.

Clearview AI also sold its data to private companies, but recently agreed to stop doing so in the United States following a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Given the high number of UK internet users and social media users, Clearview AI’s database is likely to include a substantial amount of data from UK residents, which has been collected without their knowledge ,” said the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said in a statement.

Although Clearview AI no longer offers its services to UK organisations, the company has customers in other countries, so it still uses the personal data of UK residents ,” he added.

The UK is the fourth country to take enforcement action against the company, following France, Italy and Austria.

Clearview AI did not immediately respond to Euronews Next’s request for comment.

In response to the UK’s fine and order, the company’s founder and CEO, Hoan Ton-That, told the BBC: ‘ I am deeply disappointed that the UK Information Commissioner is wrong interpreted my technology and my intentions “.

We only collect public data from the open internet and comply with all privacy and legal standards.

“International cooperation is necessary to protect the right to privacy”

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office said the company’s actions breached UK data protection laws.

The ICO had warned in November that Clearview AI could face a financial penalty for ” suspected serious breaches ” of national data protection law.

In a statement on Monday, Information Commissioner John Edwards said the company ” not only identifies [people around the world], but actually monitors their behavior and offers it as a commercial service .”

It’s unacceptable ,” he said.

People expect their personal information to be respected, no matter where in the world their data is used .”

Mr Edwards also called for ” international cooperation ” to ” protect people’s right to privacy “, as technologies such as facial recognition continue to advance around the world.

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