Want your photo removed from our facial recognition database? Just send us your photo and government-issued ID…

Graham Cluley
@gcluley

My hunch is that you wouldn’t be happy when you find out a company has been scooping up the personal photos you upload to Facebook or Twitter, and feeding them into its facial recognition database without your permission.

But that’s precisely what a controversial firm you’ve probably never heard of called Clearview AI has been doing.

Clearview AI’s facial recognition app, fed by three billion photos harvested from social media sites and the wider internet, is reportedly used by law enforcement agencies across the globe, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

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Clearview AI never asked your permission to use your photo for their app. They just assume if it’s possible to do something, then there’s nothing wrong with doing it.

Now Twitter has apparently sent a cease-and-desist letter to the controversial outfit claiming Clearview AI has violated the site’s policies, and demanding that any collected data be deleted.

Of course, you could contact Clearview AI directly and demand that your data is removed. A quick read of their privacy policy reveals that all you need to do is email them at privacy-requests@clearview.ai with your name, a headshot, and err… a photo of your government-issued ID.

Uhh, yeah. Right.

“Americans have a right to know whether their personal photos are secretly being sucked into a private facial-recognition database,” says Senator Ron Wyden.

Well, yes they do. But they also should have the right to not have their photos stolen in this fashion without their informed and explicit permission in the first place. And they should have the right to have the facial recognition data deleted without having to send their photos to the very people who stole them in the first place.

Listen to the latest “Smashing Security” podcast where Carole Theriault discusses this story, and what Clearview AI is up to, in greater detail:

Smashing Security #162: 'Robocalls, health hacks, and facial recognition fears'

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

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