Clearview AI set to get patent for controversial facial recognition tech - CNET

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Facial recognition Getty Images

Clearview AI, the institution down a arguable facial designation strategy that scrapes societal media sites to adhd pictures of radical to its database, is connected the cusp of receiving a patent for its technology. The institution confirmed Saturday that the US Trademark and Patent Office had sent it a notice of allowance, which means Clearview's exertion is acceptable to beryllium granted erstwhile the institution pays administrative fees.

News of the announcement was reported earlier Saturday by Politico, which said critics interest that the granting of the patent could velocity the improvement of akin technologies earlier lawmakers person had clip to travel to grips with them.

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Clearview AI's system, which is utilized by instrumentality enforcement agencies including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, has been criticized for feeding its database of billions of images by trawling societal media sites and harvesting pictures of radical without their consent. The institution says the pictures it gathers are publicly disposable and frankincense should beryllium just game. But the attack has prompted cease-and-desist letters from Facebook, Twitter and others. And officials successful Australia, Britain and Canada person called retired the institution implicit information privateness laws, arsenic well.

Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That has besides said that the company's strategy is meant to place transgression suspects and not arsenic a surveillance instrumentality and that Clearview is "committed to the liable use" of its technology, including moving with argumentation makers connected facial designation protocols. On Saturday, the institution told CNET successful a connection that "we bash not mean to marque a user people mentation of Clearview AI." Critics person said that apps oregon different user versions of specified a exertion could perchance fto a passerby seizure your representation with a smartphone and past uncover idiosyncratic information astir you.

Politico points retired that Clearview AI's patent application contains connection that suggests uses beyond constabulary ID'ing suspects.

"In galore instances, it whitethorn beryllium desirable for an idiosyncratic to cognize much astir a idiosyncratic that they meet, specified arsenic done business, dating, oregon different relationship," the patent exertion says, adding that accepted methods similar asking questions, doing net searches oregon moving inheritance checks tin autumn short. "Therefore, a beardown request exists for an improved method and strategy to get accusation astir a idiosyncratic and selectively supply the accusation based connected predetermined criteria."

Facial designation systems successful wide person been criticized for inaccuracy that's sometimes led to mendacious arrests. In particular, the systems person had occupation erstwhile it comes to recognizing radical of colour and women. Privacy advocates besides interest astir the imaginable for stifling dissent through, for instance, surveilling governmental demonstrations and protests. On the different hand, instrumentality enforcement officers accidental the systems person been utilized to lick crimes from shoplifting to kid intersexual exploitation to murder.

Clearview told Politico that it doesn't cognize of immoderate instances wherever its exertion led to a wrongful arrest, and the work notes that Clearview's exertion was recovered to beryllium highly accurate successful a caller audit by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology. "As a idiosyncratic of mixed race," specified accuracy "is particularly important to me," Ton-That has said.

Lawmakers are inactive wrestling with however champion to modulate facial recognition. In the US, a handful of states and immoderate cities person rules, but determination aren't yet immoderate national laws governing the technology. That's contempt the information that the systems are wide and a increasing fig of US agencies usage them. In June, the Government Accountability Office said 20 US agencies were utilizing facial designation systems but that galore of those organizations lacked indispensable accusation astir them.

"Thirteen national agencies bash not person consciousness of what non-federal systems with facial designation exertion are utilized by employees," the GAO said astatine the time. "These agencies person truthful not afloat assessed the imaginable risks of utilizing these systems, specified arsenic risks related to privateness and accuracy."

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