September 16, 2021


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Did France use US facial recognition software? – RT in French

According to the US website BuzzFeed, twenty countries including France have used the controversial facial recognition technology of the US company Clearview AI. French authorities denied the accusations.

In an article published on August 25, the US site BuzzFeed He lists 88 law enforcement organizations that have used Clearview AI’s controversial facial recognition technology to varying degrees. These organizations are affiliated with the governments of 24 countries outside the United States, including France. French authorities deny using Clearview, while CNIL and European institutions are studying a possible violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPD) by this program.

Clearview AI is a New York-based startup that uses more than 3 billion images taken from websites and social networks – including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter – to allow its users to collect data about an individual simply by getting a snapshot of their face. as mentioned the scientistClearview AI was initially funded by billionaire Peter Thiel, founder of Palantir – a company that specializes in big data – A member of the Facebook Board of Directors.

Clearview AI claimed its app was 100% effective with documents submitted to law enforcement, but BuzzFeed claims to have seen the software misidentify people.

14,000 searches were conducted in 24 countries

Data analyzed by BuzzFeed, as of February 2020, shows that police departments and ministries of the interior, as well as prosecutors’ offices and universities around the world have conducted nearly 14,000 searches using Clearview. Artificial intelligence, in countries such as the UK and Australia, Brazil or Belgium or even … France.

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Since then, some of these countries have found it illegal to use Clearview AI software. Consequently, following an investigation, the Canadian Privacy Commissioner’s Office ruled in February 2021 that Clearview had “violated federal and provincial privacy laws” by exercising “privacy surveillance.” duty. The agency recommended that the US company stop providing its services to Canadian customers, stop collecting photos of Canadians, and delete all photos and biometric data previously collected in the country. Recommendations that the company has not yet followed up. An investigative report released on June 10 by the commissioner’s office also accused the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (the country’s federal police) of breaking the law using Clearview AI technology.

Documents examined by the US site also show that Clearview AI is present in some Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. employment TV programClearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That insisted nonetheless that his company would never sell its technology to countries deemed “very hostile to the United States,” citing China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.

Use of “may not comply” with the European RGPD

In the European Union, Clearview AI is said to have commercialized its facial recognition system by offering free trials at law enforcement conferences, where it has been frequently presented as a tool to track sexual predators and their victims, as identified BuzzFeed. Asked about more than 300 searches allegedly carried out by INTERPOL – the Lyon-based international police organization – one of its spokesmen answered: Free 30-day trial to test Clearview. There is no official relationship between INTERPOL and Clearview, and INTERPOL does not use this program in its daily work.”

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The EU authorities are in the process of assessing whether the use of Clearview AI in violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU regulation in force since May 2018 that is the reference text in relation to the protection of personal data that requires companies to process it. To obtain the informed consent of the respective users. In June 2020, the European Data Protection Supervisor – the independent body that oversees implementation of the GDPR – already published guidance stating that “the use of a service such as Clearview AI by responsible EU law enforcement authorities, as the case may not, may not comply with the European Union’s data protection regime.”

In response to BuzzFeed’s questionsAnd Hoan Ton-That said Clearview AI “voluntarily processed” requests from EU citizens to have their personal information removed from the company’s databases. He also clarified that Clearview AI does not have contracts with customers within the European Union, refusing to say when its software stopped being available in the European Union.

In France, several complaints were submitted to CNIL

In France, data published by BuzzFeed indicates that between 200 and 1,000 searches were made on Clearview AI by Interpol and the Ministry of the Interior. However, a spokesman for the latter told the American media that he had no information about Clearview AI, although the data indicated that employees of this department conducted more than 400 searches on the program.

The National Informatics and Liberties Commission (CNIL) – the Personal Data Inspector – also announced that it had received “several complaints” about Clearview AI, and it is “under scrutiny.” In July 2020, a complaint was filed by the person in charge of privacy issues at the French startup Jumbo Privacy (which makes recommendations to better control the use of their personal data); On May 27, a group of NGOs led by Privacy International seized control of CNIL as well as data protection authorities in Greece, Austria, Italy and the United Kingdom, AFP reported.

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As stated in the list of Clearview AI users published by BuzzFeed, the Belgian Federal Police has reconfirmed that the facial recognition software is not being used, as reported by the French-speaking Belgian daily free.