UK, Australia investigate Clearview facial recognition firm (Reports).

The governments of the UK and Australia are investigating a facial recognition company that grabbed billions of people’s pictures from across the internet for use in its database. The inquiry will look at Clearview AI and whether its scraping and handling of data violated the UK Data Protection Act and the Australian Privacy Act.

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“The investigation highlights the importance of enforcement cooperation in protecting the personal information of Australian and UK citizens in a globalised data environment,” says a Thursday statement from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office.

Clearview AI’s CEO, Hoan Ton-That, said the company would be cooperating with the investigation, and he defended the company’s practices.

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“Clearview AI searches publicly available photos from the internet in accordance with applicable laws. It is used to help identify criminal suspects,” Ton-That said. “Its powerful technology is currently unavailable in the UK and Australia. Individuals in these countries can opt out.”

Though Ton-That said the tech is now unavailable in the two countries, BuzzFeed News reported in February that Australian police had made hundreds of searches using Clearview AI, as had police in the UK.

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To opt out of Clearview AI’s database, you have to submit a photo of yourself for the company to permanently keep. You can opt out only if you live in a state or country that requires Clearview AI to let you.

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