Clearview AI scraped billions of public pictures to create its facial recognition software and has been ordered by YouTube, Google and Twitter to stop

From: RegTech Analyst

Three of the biggest tech companies in the US have sent cease-and-desist letters to Clearview AI after the Australian startup scraped their platforms for pictures for its facial recognition software.

Google, Twitter and YouTube sent the startup the letters, arguing that scraping the platforms for pictures violated their user agreements.

In an interview with CBS This Morning, founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That argued that it had not violated any laws and that his rights to scrape the American sites were protected under the First Amendment, including his right to public information.

“The way we have built our system is to only take available information and index it that way,” he said, stating that Clearview AI’s legal counsel was in conversation with the tech giants.

The company’s facial recognition software is being used by over 600 law enforcement agencies across the US.

However, the startup has faced a backlash after an explosive expose in The New York Times revealed it had scrapped over three billion pictures from across the web.

The story also highlighted concerns that, void of any legal ruling on the how it worked, more companies might follow in Clearview AI’s tracks.

The story came as several cities across the US have banned the facial recognition software from being used in public spaces. Moreover, the EU is reportedly considering a five-year ban on using facial recognition software in public spaces to give the European Commission time to find out how it could reconcile the use of the technology with the rules of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), according to an unreleased report seen by EURACTIV.

The facial recognition market expected to grow to be worth $9.06bn by 2024.

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