Clearview AI, the facial-recognition firm that contracts with law-enforcement agencies, reported its client list data has been breached by an intruder with “unauthorized access.”
Careful not to call the breach a hack, the company notified its customers on Wednesday that the intruder stole its list of users, the numbers of accounts tied to those users, and to the number of searches its users have conducted.
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The Daily Beast saw the notification and says Clearview AI assured customers that its server and network have not been compromised, and the vulnerability that the intruder exploited has since been fixed.
The company also says the intruder did not access data related to law enforcement search histories.
Clearview AI gained attention when The New York Times reported last month that the firm scraped 3 billion images from the internet for its facial-recognition technology. Its services have been flagged by lawmakers and privacy advocates, while industry giants like Facebook and Twitter have made direct orders for Clearview to stay away from their data.
The idea of a facial-recognition database is concerning before the possibility of data breaches. Now that its gatekeepers have copped to a legitimate privacy flaw, there’s even more cause for questioning the complications of this kind of technology.
If the end of personal privacy is upon us, we’re not sure we’re confident in having Clearview at the helms. The company assured The Daily Beast that security is its “top priority,” but it’s kind of a big deal that law enforcement agencies now employ a firm with a privacy rap sheet.
Yes, the technology has been a game-changer for saving kids who are victims of sexual abuse and solving crimes that could otherwise go cold. Facial-recognition is useful when implemented by impenetrable agencies on selective cases.
But Clearview’s security should be thoroughly scrutinized and tested before it begins scraping more images, or opening its services to law enforcement agencies like the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.