clearview AI


Imagine someone being able to take your photo, and learn all your personal information. Scary right? This has to be impossible? In this day in age, something like this is possible through the company, Clearview AI.


As of recent, the tech startup, Clearview AI has been in the hot seat as far as data privacy goes. Why you may ask? Well, we will get into that in a little bit. First, let’s take a look at who Clearview AI is.


Who is Clearview AI?

To begin, Clearview AI is a privately held, US based, facial recognition software company. The software they created is, in their words, “a new research tool used by law enforcement agencies to identify perpetrators and victims of crimes.”

Further, their facial recognition application they created allows anyone to snap a photo of someone and upload it to their database. This database is essentially a tool to aid law enforcement agencies in catching criminals.

As great as this system sounds, it also poses the question of privacy. Where is the line? How many images and how much information does this company have on the public? Great questions, but the concern doesn’t end there. 

Clearview AI is also in hot water for scrapping over three million images off social media platforms like Youtube and Facebook to add to their database. This is what led the tech giants to hit the company with a cease and desist order.


Data Scraping

To begin on the timeline of controversy, we must start at the beginning. After Clearview AI scrapped billions of images from online social media platforms, that’s when things took a turn. 

Google, Youtube, Twitter and Facebook all sent cease and desist letters to Clearview. This was due to the fact that this company was using their photos to aid law enforcement, etc. 

Further, the owner of the company defended himself by saying that his actions are protected under the first amendment. He claims the images are public property, and can be used however he pleases. 



Fast forward a few weeks after the cease and desist letters circled, Clearview AI lost entire client databases to hackers. Cyber criminals found a way to gain access to the systems through an unpatched security hole. 

The unauthorized users gained access to client and customer lists, searches  and user account information. But, Clearview claims that the networks and company systems remained intact. They have since resolved the security issue.


Now What?

Now that everyone is up to speed, Clearview AI continues to remain in the news for continued lawsuits and privacy concerns. Different companies and agencies are spinning lawsuits and accusations in a number of ways. 

But, the company continues to push their message and goal of aiding law enforcement to catch criminals. All in all, as great as catching criminals sounds, could Clearview AI end up being a criminal as well? 

Now, that is the real question in the web of their surrounding controversies. 


By Taylor Ritchey