Friday, 10 July 2020 09:47

UK, Australia open joint investigation into Clearview AI

UK, Australia open joint investigation into Clearview AI Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Privacy watchdogs in Australia and the UK are jointly looking at the personal information handling practices of Clearview AI, with a focus on the company's use of scraped data and biometrics of individuals.

In a statement on Thursday, the UK Information Commissioner's Office said it was working with the Office of the Australian Information Commission and that the probe indicated the importance of co-operating in enforcement of personal data protection.

Clearview AI is an American firm that makes facial recognition software used by private companies, law enforcement agencies, universities and individuals.

Its technology can match faces to a database of more than three billion images scraped from the Internet, including social media applications.

Clearview's services are not yet available in either the UK or Australia.

The ICO said the investigation would be conducted as per the guidelines of the Australian Privacy Act 1988 and the UK Data Protection Act 2018.

"It will be conducted under the Global Privacy Assembly’s Global Cross Border Enforcement Co-operation Arrangement and the MOU between the OAIC and the ICO," the statement said.

"The OAIC and ICO will engage with other data protection authorities who have raised similar concerns, where relevant and appropriate."

American politicians have questioned Clearview AI over privacy concerns and the sale of its images to authoritarian regimes while Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have told the company to stop scooping up images from their sites.

Canada's federal privacy commission has an investigation underway into the use of Clearview by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The privacy commissioner has said an ongoing probe jointly with provincial authorities is still continuing even though Clearview said it would offering its services in Canada.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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