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7 Apr 2022

Kashmir Hill, The New York Times

Clearview AI used in Ukraine to identify deceased soldiers, despite concerns about use of facial recognition technology during conflict

"Facial Recognition Goes to War", 7 April 2022

In the weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine... Hoan Ton-That, the chief executive of the facial recognition company Clearview AI… drafted a letter explaining that his app “can instantly identify someone just from a photo”… [and] offer[ed] Clearview’s services to Ukraine for free... The tool, which can identify a suspect caught on surveillance video, could be valuable to a country under attack, Mr. Ton-That wrote. He said the tool could identify people who might be spies, as well as deceased people.

… Critics warn, however, that the tech companies could be taking advantage of a crisis to expand with little privacy oversight, and that any mistakes made by the software or those using it could have dire consequences in a war zone.

Evan Greer, a deputy director for the digital rights group Fight for the Future, is opposed to any use of facial recognition technology, and said she believed that it should be banned worldwide because governments had used it to persecute minority groups and suppress dissent… “War zones are often used as testing grounds not just for weapons but surveillance tools that are later deployed on civilian populations or used for law enforcement or crowd control purposes,” Ms. Greer said…

Clearview is facing several lawsuits in the United States, and its use of people’s photos without their consent has been declared illegal in Canada, Britain, France, Australia and Italy.