UK Government Says Clearview Owes It $23 Million For Violating Privacy Laws

from the your-business-is-no-longer-welcome-here-but-we'll-still-cash-your-check dept

Well, it couldn’t happen to a more deserving shitheel. Clearview, the tech company with 10 billion facial recognition images and zero shame, has now been uninvited from the largest portions of the British Empire.

In February of this year, the Canadian government officially asked Clearview to get off its lawn following an investigation by the country’s Privacy Commission. The Commission concluded Clearview’s modus operandi — scraping images and personal data from hundreds of websites — violated the nation’s privacy laws. By that point, Clearview had already pulled out of the Canadian market, but not before allowing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to test drive its product. (This test driving was also determined to be illegal.)

Nine months later, the Australian government did the same thing, coming to many of the same conclusions. Local laws were ignored by Clearview when it scraped the web for personal info, cutting Australian residents out of the consent loop. The Australian government told Clearview to get the hell out, to which Clearview responded that it did nothing wrong and that it had stopped selling to Australian government agencies months before, when the investigation was initiated.

That left the county seat of the British Empire (so to [very colloquially] speak), the United Kingdom itself. As Natasha Lomas reports for TechCrunch, the UK government is offering an incentive plan to Clearview to hasten its exit.

Controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI is facing a potential fine in the UK.

It has also been handed a provisional notice to stop further processing of UK citizens’ data and to delete any data it already holds as a result of what the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) described as “alleged serious breaches” of national data protection law.

If Clearview wants to do business with the UK, it will need to pay up front. And it will have to change its collection procedure — one that makes the generous assumption that anything posted on the open web is Clearview’s for the taking scraping. Not only will Clearview be expected to delete existing data gathered on UK citizens and alter its intake processes, it will need to open up its wallet and give the UK government what it wants before proceeding.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has today announced its provisional intent to impose a potential fine of just over £17 million [$23 million USD] on Clearview AI Inc – a company that describes itself as the ‘World’s Largest Facial Network’. In addition, the ICO has issued a provisional notice to stop further processing of the personal data of people in the UK and to delete it following alleged serious breaches of the UK’s data protection laws.

Much like Australia and Canada, the UK government says data privacy laws were broken by Clearview when it gathered UK residents’ info without their knowledge or consent. The ICO also points out further violations, including the gathering of data without a “lawful reason” and deciding it was entitled to hold onto any scraped data indefinitely, even when 99.9% of what Clearview has collected has nothing to do with current or past investigations by law enforcement or national security agencies.

$19 million isn’t exactly pocket change for Clearview. Unlike other tech companies, it’s not sitting on massive amounts of VC funding. It’s also difficult to say whether Clearview is even profitable at this point. While it has received some capital infusions from investors, its valuation is only $130 million, which doesn’t exactly suggest the company is poised for exponential growth.

And its future isn’t going to get any rosier if it keeps getting told to leave the country by major free world governments who would give Clearview a veneer of respectability as customers, but are instead delivering even more PR and legal headaches to a company that has done nothing but generate negative press since its exposure. If this keeps up, the only entities Clearview will be able to sell to will be ones that further harm its reputation, turning it into the NSO Group of the facial recognition world. You might be able to make a comfortable living selling to the dregs of international society to aid and abet oppression. But why the fuck would you want to?

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Companies: clearview

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Comments on “UK Government Says Clearview Owes It $23 Million For Violating Privacy Laws”

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Tanner Andrews (profile) says:


You might be able to make a comfortable living selling to the dregs of international society to aid and abet oppression. But why the fuck would you want to?

Well, if you could make a comfortable living doing so, that would likely attract quite a few job seekers.

And remember, those moneyed international dregs will not be alone. Indeed, they may have to queue up behind the several stateside police departments and federal agencies that also wish to participate in unsavory activities.

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