A new application that is starting to be widely used by police departments everywhere might have ended privacy as we know it; unless something is done about it.
This application, Clearview AI, created a facial recognition application that searches multiple current websites for any photo that you upload. Showing the searcher when it's from and the site it's from, as of right now the sites include Facebook, Youtube, Venmo and many others.
Clearview's current database includes over 3 billion photos and is consistently added to by the company. While typical applications used were limited to government-provided photos, Clearview offers millions of more photos than law enforcement has access to. Law Enforcement agencies that have used the application says that it dramatically shortens the time to solve a case due to being able to search Social Media.
Once this application began to be used on cases, agencies were closing cases in minutes and then began to look at closed cases that had long been shut down. One big reason that Clearview stands apart is that the photo that you're searching can be from any angle or even a partial, while standard tools need to be a straight shot into the camera.
While on the law enforcement side, it is started to be adopted by more and more agencies as the reputation begins to grow. The officials are finding out that all photos they upload to be searched are now being stored by Clearview to be used in the future, essentially creating their own database of potential criminals, with unknown risk if the application was in the wrong hands.
As the application is getting more and more public, the privacy concerns are growing. One such concern is that because there are so many billions of photos in the database, multiple people are bound to look alike. This could mean that people are being wrongly convicted in the future or already have been. Due to the short lifespan and growing privacy concerns, the application has not been properly tested by an unbiased third-party to ensure accuracy.
Another big one and the one that is most alarming to us is that Clearview scraped millions of photos from Facebook and other Social Media sites that prohibit people from doing so In their terms of service. When asked, the founder of Clearview stated that "' A lot of people are doing it."' and later on said that they only took your image if your profile was public and in the future, you will be able to take any images of yourself down. Facebook has since began to investigate if this violates their rules.
While this application is so far limited to law enforcement, the investors believe that it will be public eventually. Even if it does not, Clearview has now paved the way for other companies to enter this space. The founder still believes that this is the best use of technology.
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