Scraping social media sites for images to use with biometric facial programs is a relatively new phenomenon that start up Clearview AI has built their product around.
Clearview AI has claimed to have scraped around 3 billion photographs from a number of social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram.
Using this data they have created a facial recognition platform to sell to law enforcement agencies. Clearview AI have sold this system to over 600 law enforcement agencies.
According to the NY Times, Twitter is one big tech giant that has ordered Clearview AI to stop scraping images for biometric data, and delete all previously collected data.
Will this work? It is possible, but as seen in the past often web scraping is legal in the eyes of the law even if violating a websites terms of service. The difference however in this case, is the images are being used by a privately funded company and sold as a facial recognition service - a potentially huge privacy issue.
Clearview's database is far greater than previous similar tools used by law enforcement. Tech giants capable of building such as application (such as Google) have previously agreed not to due to the potential security and privacy concerns.
Is this an ethical use of data collection, or a potential orwellian nightmare which could destroy individual privacy and the ability for people to go about their lives anonymously?
Written by Ollie Cox