Facial Recognition Firm Clearview AI Plans Coronavirus Contact Tracing

Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That
CBS This Morning/ YouTube

Facial recognition firm Clearview AI, which has come under fire for scraping social media sites such as Facebook to create a facial recognition library, now reportedly plans to work with the government on Chinese virus contact tracing.

NBC News reports that Clearview AI, the artificial intelligence facial recognition firm that came under fire for using social media sites to generate its database of faces, now wants to work with government agencies on coronavirus contact tracing during the pandemic.

Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That stated recently that the company was now in talks with federal authorities and three states about isn’t the firm’s technology as part of efforts to fight the Wuhan coronavirus.

“We mainly serve government and law enforcement, and we’ve seen more demand for solutions around coronavirus and how to help things like tracing people who may have had the virus,” Ton-That said. “What we understand now is we’re in the stage where if we are to open up the economy in a way that’s safe for everybody, that we need to be able to test quickly and also trace the people who have been infected and find out who they’ve been in contact with.”

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) has now sent a letter this week demanding that Clearview AI reveal the state and federal agencies that it has spoken with about contact tracing as well as the methodology of any role that the company might play in a contact tracing program.

Markey, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said in a statement. “Clearview has failed to demonstrate that it can be trusted to protect Americans’ privacy. I’m concerned that if this company becomes involved in our nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, its invasive technology will become normalized, and that could spell the end of our ability to move anonymously and freely in public.”

Ton-That told NBC News in a statement: “We just received the letter from Senator Markey, for whom we have great respect. We will be responding to him directly.”

Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That made headlines a few months ago after stating that he has a First Amendment right to scrape through billions of photos online to add to his company’s database of three billion pictures.

Clearview AI has developed a system that allows users to upload a photo of a person to the app and see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system scrapes information from Facebook, YouTube, and millions of other websites.

Clearview AI’s facial surveillance systems have been licensed to over 600 law enforcement agencies from the FBI to the Department of Homeland Security and regular local police departments. The system operates with almost no oversight, is reportedly exempt from biometric data laws, and has been marketed widely to law enforcement agencies.

Breitbart News reported on the company’s most recent data breach in April of this year.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com


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