CEO of Creepy Face Recognition Firm Clearview AI Says He Has First Amendment Right to Billions of Photos - 2020-02-04
Hoan Ton-That, the CEO and founder of a face recognition company whose backers freely admit could help lead to a "dystopian future or something," says he has a First Amendment right to scrape whatever images he damn well pleases off public websites like Twitter to pad out his company's supposedly three billion photo database.
Clearview AI has licensed its face surveillance systems to over 600 law enforcement agencies ranging from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to local police departments. It operates with virtually next to no oversight, claims it's exempt from biometric data laws, and marketed its tools to law enforcement as a sort of face recognition free for all while reportedly making false claims about its usefulness in cracking cases. Clearview's database is built off images scraped from public sources on the internet like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Venmo, Google, and countless other websites. Late last month, the New Jersey attorney general's office ordered police to stop using the app, while Twitter sent the company a cease-and-desist demanding it cease scraping data and delete anything it had already collected.
In an interview with CBS This Morning scheduled to air on Wednesday, Ton-That said that "We've received a letter, and our legal counsel has reached out to them and are handling it accordingly. But there is also a First Amendment right to public information. So the way we have built our system is to only take publicly available information and index it that way."