Clearview AI fined (again) for violating GDPR with facial recognition technology

In the context: French authorities have imposed the highest possible fine on biometric startup Clearview AI, which sells its controversial facial recognition technology to governments and law enforcement agencies around the world. The company must delete data already obtained on French citizens, otherwise it faces an additional fine of 100,000 euros per day.

Clearview AI has received another fine for its biometric profiling activities in Europe, this time for illegally collecting and using data belonging to French citizens without their knowledge. The National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL), the French data protection authority, imposed a €20 million fine on a US company after a lengthy investigation and unsuccessful attempt at cooperation.

clearview sells facial recognition tools to companies, individuals and law enforcement, boasting of its algorithm that can detect any person with “99% accuracy” in a database of over 30 billion face images. The company scrapes the entire public internet (including social media) to get these images — a perfectly legitimate activity, according to Clearview CEO Joan Ton-Tats.

Clearview’s “impartial” methods may be perfectly legal, but the biometric company is battling fines and injunctions in several countries. The latest CNIL decision comes after a two-year investigation launched in May 2020, when French authorities received complaints from individuals about Clearview facial recognition software. Another warning about biometric profiling came from Privacy International in May 2021.

In December 2021, CNIL collaborated with European counterparts to share the results of independent investigations and finally ordered Clearview to stop reuse The photo is on the internet. Clearview did not express any interest in compliance, so the CNIL’s final decision was to impose maximum financial penalty against the company: 20 million euros. The company will have to delete data already collected on French citizens, with an additional fine of 100,000 euros for each day of delay after a two-month grace period.

CNIL notes that it found Clearview AI guilty of several violations of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Violations include unlawful processing of personal data (Article 6 of the GDPR), failure to respect the rights of individuals (Articles 12, 15 and 17) and lack of cooperation with the data protection authority (Article 31).

The CNIL decision is the third decision regarding Clearview’s operations, after authorities recently fined the company for illegally collecting biometric data in Italy and Greece. He probably won’t be the last. The New York corporation continues to tout the idea that its dystopian face database can “help communities and their people live better and safer lives.”

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