US Senator Wants To Know Which Federal Authorities Are Using Clearview AI To Track the Coronavirus

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed News: Clearview AI, the facial recognition company that claims to have scraped over 3 billion photos from social media to power its face-matching tool, is now facing questions from Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey about recent claims that it’s developing a digital contact tracing tool for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That claimed in a recent NBC interview that the company is in talks with “federal and state” authorities about developing a tool that would use facial recognition to track where a person diagnosed with COVID-19 has traveled and whom they may have come in contact with. Clearview has not identified any of these authorities nor the length of the agreements or contracts it has signed or is seeking. It’s also unclear how Clearview’s facial recognition tools would aid in contact tracing efforts or how the company would obtain pictures of people diagnosed with the disease and track their movements at scale.

In a letter to Ton-That, Markey asked Clearview to name the government agencies it claims to be communicating with and to disclose any agreements it may have reached with them. He also asked if Clearview is planning to use real-time facial recognition to power its contact tracing tool. BuzzFeed News previously reported that Clearview had developed a sister company called Insight Camera that partnered with at least two organizations to do real-time facial recognition and surveillance. In response to a detailed list of questions, Ton-That told BuzzFeed News: “We just received the letter from Senator Markey, for whom we have great respect. We will be responding to him directly.” Asked by BuzzFeed News, Ton-That did not comment on which state or federal authorities the company is working with. “Technology has an important role to play in mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic, but this health crisis cannot justify using unreliable surveillance tools that could undermine our privacy rights,” the letter reads. “Given that your responses to my previous letter failed to address ongoing concerns about your product — particularly around accuracy and bias testing — any plans to deploy it widely to fight the coronavirus could further increase Clearview’s threat to the public’s privacy.”

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Source: Slashdot