The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It; EU considers ban of up to five years

Posted in: Surveillance & Privacy at 19/01/2020 23:12

A little-known start-up helps law enforcement match photos of unknown people to their online images — and “might lead to a dystopian future or something,” a backer says.

Until recently, Hoan Ton-That’s greatest hits included an obscure iPhone game and an app that let people put Donald Trump’s distinctive yellow hair on their own photos.

Then Mr. Ton-That — an Australian techie and onetime model — did something momentous: He invented a tool that could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously, and provided it to hundreds of law enforcement agencies, ranging from local cops in Florida to the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security.

His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/18/technology/clearview-privacy-facial-recognition.html

Also see:

Facial recognition: EU considers ban of up to five years
The European Commission has revealed it is considering a ban on the use of facial recognition in public areas for up to five years.

Regulators want time to work out how to prevent the technology being abused.

The technology allows faces captured on CCTV to be checked in real time against watch lists, often compiled by police.
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51148501

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