Clearview AI Receives $22.6M Fine from British Data Privacy Agency

According to The New York Times, a British privacy oversight body impugned Clearview AI for overstepping the country’s data protection laws. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said that the facial recognition technology company was scraping billions of photos from social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn and processing that information to construct its database without telling British citizens, Monday’s article by Ryan Mac said.

While the ICO required Clearview to halt its data collection, it has given the company until mid-2022, when it will render a final decision, to contest the fine. As reported by Buzzfeed News, several British agencies including law enforcement ran searches using Clearview’s facial recognition software, The New York Times noted.

“I have significant concerns that personal data was processed in a way that nobody in the U.K. will have expected,” Elizabeth Denham, the country’s information commissioner, said in a statement.

For its part, Clearview said that the ICO’s allegations were wrong and that it would consider an appeal, the article reported. In a statement, the company’s CEO responded to the ICO’s move, “[m]y company and I have acted in the best interests of the U.K. and their people by assisting law enforcement in solving heinous crimes against children, seniors and other victims of unscrupulous acts.”

The New York Times reported that this is Clearview’s largest fine to date. The article noted that earlier this year, the company faced penalties from a Swedish data privacy authority, was deemed illegal in Canada, and was ordered to stop collecting Australians’ data as a result of an action by the Office of the Australian Office Commissioner.

In the United States, the company has faced myriad lawsuits. One of those is a sprawling multidistrict litigation ongoing in Chicago, Illinois that is a consolidation of numerous consumer class actions. Currently, Clearview AI’s motion to dismiss is pending before the court.