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EU privacy watchdog thinks that Clearview AI is illegal

The comments are a further blow to the facial recognition firm

Clearview AI’s planned expansion into the EU hit a roadblock yesterday when the bloc’s privacy watchdog said it “doubts” that the service is legal.

The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) said that the use of the service by law enforcement would “likely not be consistent with the EU data protection regime.”

The body added that it “has doubts as to whether any Union or Member State law provides a legal basis for using a service such as the one offered by Clearview AI.”

The statement comes amid growing concerns around potential misuses of Clearview, which matches faces to billions of photos scraped from websites.

[Read: Automated facial recognition breaches GDPR, says EU digital chief]

The backlash had already forced Clearview to promise it will no longer offer the product to private companies. And it now looks like the company’s ambitions to enter the EU will also be scuppered.

Clearview on the rocks

The developments in the EU are another blow to Clearview, which has faced regulatory scrutiny and a range of lawsuits since the secretive company began to attract headlines earlier this year.

Those problems have been compounded by growing concerns around police surveillance triggered by racial justice demonstrations.

The protests have already led Amazon to pause police use of facial recognition for a year, and IBM to stop offering the software entirely. But Clearview has thus far refused to follow the trend.

“We are very encouraged that our technology has proven accurate in the field and has helped prevent the wrongful identification of people of color,” Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That said yesterday.

Ton-That claims the tech is still not available in the EU, where the protests have also attracted huge crowds. However, the company had planned to expand to nine countries in the bloc, according to documents obtained by Buzzfeed in February.

Thankfully, it looks like those plans could be dead.

 

Published June 11, 2020 — 11:25 UTC