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9 May 2022

Ryan Mac & Kashmir Hill, New York Times (USA),
// Julian Bingley, ZDNet.com

USA: Clearview AI agrees to limit sales of its facial recognition database to settle Illinois privacy lawsuit

"Clearview AI settles suit and agrees to limit sales of facial recognition database", 9 May 2022

Clearview AI, the facial recognition software maker... settled a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and agreed to limit its face database in the United States primarily to government agencies and not allow most American companies to have access to it.

Under the settlement... Clearview will not sell its database of what it said were more than 20 billion facial photos to most private individuals and businesses in the country. But the company can largely still sell that database to federal and state agencies.

...Nathan Freed Wessler, a deputy director with the A.C.L.U.’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, said in a statement about the settlement. “Other companies would be wise to take note, and other states should follow Illinois’s lead in enacting strong biometric privacy laws.”

Floyd Abrams, a First Amendment expert hired by Clearview... said the company was “pleased to put this litigation behind it.”

“To avoid a protracted, costly and distracting legal dispute with the A.C.L.U. and others, Clearview AI has agreed to continue to not provide its services to law enforcement agencies in Illinois for a period of time,” he said.

The A.C.L.U. filed its lawsuit in May 2020 on behalf of groups representing victims of domestic violence, undocumented immigrants and sex workers. The group accused Clearview of violating Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act...

Clearview is also prohibited from selling to any Illinois-based entity, private or public, for five years as part of the agreement.

In a key exception, Clearview will still be able to provide its database to U.S. banks and financial institutions under a carve-out in the Illinois law. Hoan Ton-That, chief executive of Clearview AI, said the company did “not have plans” to provide the database “to entities besides government agencies at this time.”

The settlement does not mean that Clearview cannot sell any product to corporations. It will still be able to sell its facial recognition algorithm, without the database of 20 billion images, to companies.

As part of the settlement, Clearview did not admit any liability and agreed to pay $250,000 in attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs. The settlement is subject to approval by an Illinois state judge.