According to a 2020 patent application published Thursday, facial recognition company Clearview AI, which claims to have collected 3 billion images from the internet to power its face matching system, has taken its technology from police crackdowns to retail and retail. I propose to apply it to everything, including dating.
A patent application was filed in August. The company said in federal court thatAvoid Dealing with Non-Government Customers Wherever You Are” of patent But the application describes how facial recognition software can be applied not only to the private sector, but also to law enforcement and social services, where it can be used to identify drug users and people who are homeless. says it is possible.
“In many cases, it may be desirable for an individual to learn more about a person they have met through business, dating, or other relationships,” the application states, adding that an expedited background check based on the following information: are outlined. “Improved methods and systems for obtaining information about a person are highly sought after.”
This document also describes some other possible uses of Clearview AI. For example, to “allow or deny access to individuals, facilities, venues, or devices,” or for public authorities to accurately distribute social benefits and reduce fraud. Also, users can introduce Clearview to identify “sex offenders” and “homeless”, and to determine if someone has “mental problems or disorders”, which He also said it could affect how police respond.
Clearview AI’s application primarily describes the technology the company has owned and provided to the United States since 2019. Over 2,200 law enforcement agencies, businesses and individuals worldwide. Companies typically apply for patents for technologies they want to invent in the future or to prevent competition, but the bigger question, “the problem the company is trying to solve‘ says The Slate.
Clearview AI CEO Huang Tong Git told BuzzFeed, “We have filed a patent for an important technology in the field of facial recognition, especially regarding accuracy and use of a large database of publicly available facial images. I believe we have made a difference,” he said. News that answers a list of questions. “Clearview AI is currently only used by law enforcement for post-crime investigations.”
“We have no intention of launching a consumer version of Clearview AI,” he added.
Tong That also said Fox Rothschild Law Firm helped prepare the patent. He declined to say why the patent application describes widespread consumer and private sector applications for the technology.
In a media interview, Ton-That said the company’s software:Strictly For Law EnforcementIt said it aims to help victims of child sex trafficking and other violent crimes. However, the patent application indicates that Clearview recognizes that its technology may allow individuals, businesses and other private entities to look into the background of people they interact with. The company used the following language in its filing: advertising to the policeconveys the “need” to protect people from criminals and anchors itself as the most effective way to do it.
“I think it would be interesting to compare the information on the website with the filing to see what Clearview is trying to do,” said David J. Stein, an attorney with machine learning patent experience at Studebaker & Brackett PC. I’m here. “Even if this is said to be strictly for law enforcement, the use is not limited to that, nor is the technology limited to that.”
Patent filings describe many possible uses for the technology beyond the realm of law enforcement. Clearview AI “provides a way to provide information about subjects (e.g. people, strangers, new people, people with memory problems, criminals, drunkards, drug users, criminals, etc.).” is stated in the application. homeless people). “
The application also says that Clearview’s version can retrieve profile information associated with face matching. This information may include date of birth, hometown, nationality, educational background, phone number, email address, hobbies and personal interests.
Notably, Stein said, details about how people can protect themselves from such investigations are unclear.
“A lot of these applications show a lot of privacy and consent stuff, but I can’t see anything about that,” Stein told BuzzFeed News. “He has only one very brief and irrelevant mention. [acknowledge] You may have privacy settings. And there are no details about it at all. ”
The application states that Clearview may also link to other social media accounts of other parties, such as “professional profiles” and “employer websites” on sites such as LinkedIn. Facebook and LinkedIn have previously issued suspension letters to Clearview for violating their respective rules regarding image scraping and use, but both companies have taken legal action against the New York City-based startup. No action is known to have been taken.
Clearview will state in its application that if users are in the same geographic area, or “law enforcement, retail, [or] According to the company, one of the main points of such a network is to “share headshots of high-risk individuals” through a shared database.
Tong That declined to disclose to BuzzFeed News whether the feature currently exists or if Clearview plans to launch it.
Even if Clearview said its tools were for law enforcement purposes, it wouldn’t matter to the USPTO. Stein said the intended field of use was “totally unrelated to the patent system.”
So why discuss these uses in the first place? According to Stein, a comprehensive description of what Clearview’s technology is and how it can be used is “quite ambitious.” that make the application possible.
This application combines two popular concepts: a web crawler searching the Internet for images with faces, and facial recognition technology itself. Stein said the patent application uses very broad and general language to describe how these tools work together, which is likely strategic.
“By saying less, you’re getting more space,” Stein said. In other words, Clearview may be trying to defend itself against as many patent lawsuits as possible by describing itself in a very general way.
Facial recognition researcher Adam Harvey analyzed the BuzzFeed News patent application and said it contained 30 claims describing systems and code found in public code repositories such as GitHub.
“From a CEO’s perspective, you want to have IP in your portfolio to raise money or sell your company,” Harvey said.
Thong That, who is listed as the sole inventor in the patent application, has made conflicting statements in the past about his business relationship with Clearview. Earlier last year, he claimed the company was focused on working with law enforcement, but BuzzFeed News reported that Clearview’s facial recognition tools were used by private companies, including: Macy’s, Kohl’s, Bank of America. Clearview AI also had its own internal designation. People who are “friends” of the companyand provided its software to potential investors. politicianand personal acquaintances of company executives.
civil rights groups like American Civil Liberties Union And private citizens have long expressed concerns about Clearview’s approach to personal privacy. Last year, the company was sued in federal court in Illinois for violating state law regarding the commercial use of biometric data by photographing people’s faces without their consent.
of response to the lawsuitClearview said it was canceling the accounts of “all customers not affiliated with law enforcement or other federal, state or local departments, offices or agencies,” as well as those of Illinois-based entities. .
Last week, Canada’s Federal Privacy Commission released the results of an investigation that found the following facts: Clearview was engaged in ‘mass surveillance’ The number of “millions of individuals” in the country. Clearview had previously announced that it ceased operations in the country when the investigation began last year.
Clearview claims it has a First Amendment right to use other people’s images to train its facial recognition algorithm, but privacy concerns have prompted some police to use the system. cautious about In November, the Los Angeles Police Department prohibited the use It launched an investigation into Clearview and other commercial facial recognition companies after BuzzFeed News told officials that investigators were using the software without commanders’ knowledge.
“Clearview collects photos from all over the place, which from the department’s perspective is a threat to public confidence,” Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief John McMahon told BuzzFeed News at the time.
Logan McDonald contributed to this article.