Getting a Clearview on Privacy
Clearview AI decision marks line in the sand.
The UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) announced a fine totalling £7.5 million to Clearview AI on Monday. The watchdog's action came in response to mass image collection by the company. The US-based firm was told to delete all its UK data too. Information Commissioner John Edwards explained:
Clearview AI Inc has collected multiple images of people all over the world, including in the UK, from a variety of websites and social media platforms, creating a database with more than 20 billion images. The company not only enables identification of those people, but effectively monitors their behaviour and offers it as a commercial service.
Mr Edward's said such conduct "is unacceptable." Many others would agree. He added that “given the high number of UK internet and social media users, Clearview AI’s database is likely to include a substantial amount of data from UK residents, which has been gathered without their knowledge.”
Major Moment in Privacy Protection
As TechCrunch noted, the practical fallout of the decision, not least whether or not Clearview will actually stump up the cash, remains to be seen. However, it's clearly a major moment in privacy enforcement in the UK and beyond.
Responding on behalf of the firm to the aforementioned publication, Lee Wolosky, partner at U.S. law firm Jenner and Block, noted that the fine had come down from the previously threatened £17 million or more:
While we appreciate the ICO’s desire to reduce their monetary penalty on Clearview AI, we nevertheless stand by our position that the decision to impose any fine is incorrect as a matter of law. Clearview AI is not subject to the ICO’s jurisdiction, and Clearview AI does no business in the U.K. at this time.
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