- Clearview AI, the company that built a controversial tool that lets users identify people by uploading a picture of their face, is reportedly planning an international expansion
- The company, which sells to law enforcement, is marketing its software to authoritarian regimes across the globe, including countries that have committed human rights abuses, according to a report by BuzzFeed News.
- It has scraped billions of photos from social media sites in order to build a searchable facial recognition database, raising privacy concerns.
- Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other platforms have sent cease-and-desist letters to Clearview AI instructing it to stop scraping peoples’ images from their sites.
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The controversial company that built a searchable database of peoples’ faces is now marketing its technology to authoritarian regimes across the globe, according to documents published by BuzzFeed News on Wednesday.
Clearview AI mostly operated in the shadows until its existence was first reported by The New York Times last month. The company has scraped billions of images from Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other platforms in order to build a tool for police to identify people based on a single image of their face, raising concerns about privacy.
In the weeks since the New York Times report, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and other companies have sent Clearview AI cease-and-desist letters instructing it to stop scraping images from their platforms.
Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That has pushed back, however, arguing that the company was within its First Amendment rights to gather photos that are publicly accessible online.
Now, the company may be attempting to sell its software to governments across the globe, according to a marketing document obtained by BuzzFeed News. Clearview already has relationships with over 600 law enforcement agencies across the US. Prospective clients named in the document include the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Qatar, all of which have documented histories of human rights abuses.
A Clearview AI spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider that the company does not currently have any contracts outside the US and Canada, but that its marketing materials show “growing international interest in Clearview.”
“We have received inquiries from law enforcement agencies all over the world,” the spokesperson said.