Nextgov: Senator Wants Details on Clearview AI’s Contact Tracing Pitches

“A facial recognition startup that recently spurred concerns about privacy and anonymity in America for supplying biometric surveillance tools to law enforcement is now reportedly marketing its technology to the government as a COVID-19 tracking tool—and for that, it’s caught the attention of one Democratic lawmaker.”

“Roused by reports that Clearview AI is now marketing its controversial facial recognition software to federal and state authorities to trace and track coronavirus patients amid the pandemic, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., penned a letter pressing the company’s CEO for more answers. The lawmaker’s letter is the latest he’s sent to probe the Clearview for more information about how its technology is being put to use.”

“’Technology has an important role to play in mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic, but this health crisis cannot justify using unreliable surveillance tools that could undermine our privacy rights,’ Markey wrote.”

“Clearview appeared across national headlines in January, after an initial New York Times investigation revealed that the company possesses a database of billions of personally identifying photos of people that hundreds of law enforcement officials used in the past year. The report detailed how the Clearview AI app allows users to take and upload a photo of any person’s face and then subsequently view public pictures of that same person—including the image links. Markey sent an initial note questioning the business’ sale of American’s sensitive biometric information and followed up with more inquiries into how Clearview processes data about children and also regarding its potential sales to foreign, authoritarian governments.”

“’Given that your responses to my previous letter failed to address ongoing concerns about your product—particularly around accuracy and bias testing—any plans to deploy it widely to fight the coronavirus could further increase Clearview’s threat to the public’s privacy,’ the letter states…” Read the full article here.

Source: Senator Wants Details on Clearview AI’s Contact Tracing Pitches – By Brandi Vincent, May 4, 2020. Nextgov.

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