Facial recognition technology: helpful or hurtful?

What is it?

A new program called “Clearview AI,” constructed by Hoan Ton-That, provides a facial recognition software to be used in law enforcement industries. Clearview AI has used this software to match photos of different unknown faces to people’s online images across the world.

Hoan Ton-That claims that the software has helped many children and solved many crimes with missing suspects.  The company claims to have gathered around 3 billion online photos across different social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Hoan Ton-That

Why is this concerning?

What makes it concerning is that the Clearview AI can retrieve photos that have been deleted from the web. Additionally, if an account was public at one time but later became private, the software may have already downloaded the photos when the account was public.

This possible threat creates fear for many online users as it makes it more difficult to online users to regain control of their online privacy. Think about it– if a picture of you is posted by a friend or family member, or if you simply decide to take down a picture you’ve uploaded yourself, the footprint of that image could exist permanently somewhere else because of Clearview AI. Although the goal of the program is for safety, many people may be wary of its possible future uses– or misuses.

Yet, many departments such as the Chicago Police Department are willing to spend around $50,000 for a 2-year contract with Clearview AI.  The program has apparently has been used in 600 law enforcement agencies in the U.S and Canada.

Ton-That also said that multiple banks use his program for fraud investigation. However, many banks such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Chase declined to comment.

Moral of the story: there are merits to programs such as Clearview AI, but may open the door to future privacy infractions unbeknownst to online users.

Sources: The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It