The announcement comes at a time where facial recognition systems become even more widespread. Despite the absence of clear rules governing their use, Clearview AI’s facial recognition systems are widely used by local, state, and federal law enforcement with a shared vision of tremendously curbing crime and keeping communities safe. Clearview AI’s facial recognition system matches faces to a database exceeding 3 billion indexed from different sources including social media, applications, and the internet.
Clearview AI, the tech firm responsible for the contentious facial recognition system that scrapes the internet, applications, and social media sites to add photos of people to its database, is about to receive a patent for its invention. The firm announced on Saturday that the United States Trademark and Patent Office notified it of acceptance, indicating that Clearview’s request will be accorded as soon as administrative fees are met.
Politico first revealed the notification on Saturday, stating that skeptics are concerned that awarding the patent will hasten the advancement of related innovations before lawmakers get to grapple with them. Clearview AI’s intelligent system, often employed by law enforcement including the FBI, state enforcement, and Homeland Security has indeed been chastised for replenishing its database of billions of photographs by searching social networking websites and gathering images of individuals without their permission. According to the corporation, the images it collects are publicly available and so should be fair game. However, Facebook, Twitter, amongst others have sent halt letters in response to the strategy. In addition, regulators in Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada have chastised the corporation for violating data privacy regulations.
CEO of Clearview, Hoan Ton made it clear that the system is intended to pinpoint criminal suspects rather than to be used as a monitoring tool, and also mentioned that Clearview is “dedicated to the appropriate use” of the tech, which includes engaging policymakers on facial recognition regulation. In a recent statement on Saturday, the company stated that they do not aim to produce a commercially available version of Clearview AI. According to critics, apps or other commercial versions of these kinds of innovation may allow a stranger to take an image using a smartphone and subsequently discover private information about that person.
According to Politico, Clearview AI’s patent application documentation includes wording that implies uses other than police pinpointing criminals.
“In several scenarios, it might be preferable for one to be knowledgeable about others they meet, perhaps through their day to day business, websites, or other connection,” the patent filing states, going on to add that conventional means including posing questions, conducting online searches, or performing background checks may not suffice. “As a result, there is a significant need for an enhanced approach and platform for obtaining details about a person and preferentially providing the data based on specified criteria.”
Face detection systems overall have been chastised for their inconsistency, which has occasionally resulted in wrongful apprehensions among other issues. Particularly identifying individuals of color and women, the systems have struggled and produced incorrect results at times. Privacy activists are additionally concerned about the possibility of silencing dissent by, for example, surveilling politically motivated demonstrations and protests. Law enforcement personnel, on the other hand, claim that the systems have been utilized to solve crimes ranging from theft to child sexual exploitation and murder.
Clearview informed Politico that the company isn’t aware of any cases in which their innovation resulted in an unjustified arrest, and the news outlet noted that Clearview’s tech was determined to be extremely accurate in a recent examination by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the Commerce Department’s. “As an individual of mixed ethnicity,” Ton-That says, “accuracy is extremely essential to me.”
Legislators are still debating how to effectively govern face detection. In the United States, a few states and towns have restrictions in place, but there is the absence of federal laws controlling the technology as of now. Even though the systems are extensively used and a rising number of US agencies rely on them, this remains the case. The Government Accountability Office reported in June that 20 US institutions were utilizing face recognition systems, but several of them did not have essential data concerning them.
The GAO stated at the time that “thirteen departments and agencies are unaware of which non-federal systems using face recognition technology are used by personnel. As a result, these authorities have not thoroughly considered the possible hazards of employing these tools, for instance, privacy and accuracy problems.”