Jan 29, 2020

GOP congressman wants answers from Clearview

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.). Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Rep. Patrick McHenry, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, wants facial recognition provider Clearview to explain its data collection practices and is calling on committee Chair Maxine Waters to schedule a hearing on the matter.

Why it matters: Clearview has come under fire following a New York Times report on its use of public images from social media and elsewhere on the internet to create a facial recognition system for law enforcement agencies.

Driving the news:

  • In a letter to the company, seen by Axios, McHenry says Clearview's technology appears to create "serious privacy and public safety concerns."
  • McHenry asks for all documents relating to the technology and the company's data collection practices as well as a list of customers that have purchased Clearview's system. In a separate letter, McHenry asked Waters to schedule a hearing on the issue.
  • Clearview is also being sued in federal court, while state legislators in New York and elsewhere are seeking to halt law enforcement's use of the technology.

Go deeper: What to expect on tech legislation in 2020

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Tech giants hammer facial recognition startup

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Venmo and LinkedIn have sent Clearview AI cease-and-desist letters in the wake of a blockbuster report that the facial recognition startup has scraped billions of people's faces from their websites, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Clearview's app is used to identify suspected criminals by over 600 law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, per the Times.

Clearview brings privacy concerns from facial recognition into focus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

People warning about the potentially chilling collision of big data sets and emerging technologies can now point to Clearview, the secretive facial recognition startup that scraped images from some of the largest public internet sites to create a database now used by hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the country.

Why it matters: Facial recognition tools have already raised privacy concerns in the U.S. and abroad, particularly when they're used by government, but the controversy over Clearview has shown that both industry and law enforcement are moving faster than the debate.

Facebook to pay $550 million over facial recognition tagging system

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook said on Wednesday it will pay $550 million in response to an Illinois-based class-action lawsuit against the facial recognition technology in its photo-labeling service, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: The settlement is a sign that state-level regulations on facial recognition can extract real penalties from social media giants like Facebook, as more states introduce bills to regulate, ban or study the tech.

Go deeperArrowJan 30, 2020