“Facial recognition technologies threaten the notion of online and offline privacy”

Tribune. Are you aware that any photos of you that are on social media or elsewhere on the public web may be harvested and stored in the private database of a company that you do not know from Eve or from? Adam? And that this company sells access to this database to police, governments and other companies around the world?

This mass surveillance system is the product of the American company Clearview AI, whose existence was revealed in January 2020 by a investigation of New York Times. Using an automated tool that browses the Web, Clearview collects all the images detected as containing human faces (more than 10 billion photos stored to date), and allows its customers, thanks to its facial recognition algorithm , to identify the individuals appearing on it. It also stores any information related to those photos, including the URL link to the page they are on – which often contains names and other personal information. Official objective: to help the police identify criminals.

Read also “The digital city needs public data governance, which involves the population”

It’s unprecedented technology, which has captured the attention of many privacy authorities around the world, and with good reason. On December 16, 2021, the National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL) put the company on notice, ordering him to delete all photos and other personal information collected in France. Indeed, European data protection law, in force since 2018, protects us against misuse of our personal information – such as the harvesting and sale of our photos without informing us or asking for our consent. The CNIL’s decision closely follows a similar decision taken by its British counterpart, and others in Australia and Canada.

Read also The CNIL gives formal notice to the facial recognition company Clearview

The impact of these decisions will depend on the willingness of the company, and that of its investors, to recognize the considerable dangers of its technology and the aberration it constitutes in a democratic society that protects fundamental freedoms (when institutions are functioning). Notably because the company is based in the United States, where the lawsuits brought against it by the American Union for Civil Liberties are limited by the lack of federal privacy law.

Fear as a motor

But this massive disavowal is the example of an effective response of modern democracies to innovation and the search for unbridled profit – a response too often absent in the face of the giants of the Web and which must be celebrated. Technologies like Clearview’s threaten the notion of privacy in online and offline public spaces, which is not necessarily intuitive but essential to protect. Indeed, this notion allows us to leave our home with our face uncovered without anyone, with one click, being able to identify us, find our name, our profession, the photos of our last vacation or of our last participation in a expression.

You have 31.4% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.

We would love to give thanks to the author of this write-up for this remarkable material

“Facial recognition technologies threaten the notion of online and offline privacy”

The Inside News Hyderabad