European privacy group challenges face scan firm Clearview

Privacy campaign groups on Thursday filed a number of legal complaints against Clearview AI with European regulators

LONDON – Privacy campaign groups filed legal complaints with European regulators against Clearview AI on Thursday, alleging that the facial recognition technology it provides to law enforcement agencies and businesses violates stringent EU privacy regulations.

Four privacy campaign groups complained to data security officials in France, Austria, Greece, Italy and the UK about Clearview’s practices. They say the company “scrapped” their images from websites and stocked biometric data on more than 3 billion people without their knowledge or permission.

The complaints state that Clearview has no legal basis for collecting and processing this data under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations, which cover facial image data. The UK adopted its own version of the European Union’s privacy rules after leaving the bloc.

New York-based Clearview did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The news of Clearview’s reserves, first reported by The New York Times, raised concerns that the kind of surveillance that could be seen in China could be in Western democracies.

Privacy International stated that European data protection laws clearly outline the objectives for which companies can use personal data.

Ionis Kouwakas, a London-based privacy international legal officer, said, “Taking away our unique facial features or even sharing them with the police and other companies is more than what we can expect as online users is more.”

The Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights in Italy, Homo Digitalis of Greece and Noyb of Austria were also part of the challenge.

Clearview already faces global scrutiny.

Meanwhile, privacy watchdogs in Britain, Australia and Canada have started investigating the company.

Clearview CEO Hon Ton-Dat has stated that the company’s database has been compiled with publicly available photographs from the open web and cannot be used for surveillance.


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