American Rights Group Sues AI Facial Recognition Company

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. acquit / əˈkwɪt / (v) – to clear someone of a crime

    The suspect tried to pay the jury to acquit him of his crime.

  2. refine / rɪˈfaɪn / (v) – to improve something

    It’s an editor’s job to refine the writers’ articles.

  3. consent / kənˈsɛnt / (n) – permission for something to happen

    My parents gave their consent to go on the school trip.

  4. breach / britʃ / (n) – a failure to obey the conditions of a law or an agreement

    The singer’s agency filed a lawsuit against her for breach of contract.

  5. surveillance / sərˈveɪ ləns / (n) – close observation of someone or something

    Security personnel do regular surveillance of an area.


Read the text below.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a complaint against facial recognition tool developer Clearview AI.

Clearview AI’s facial recognition tool is used by law enforcement organizations to identify suspects and victims. With the technology, innocent people can be acquitted of charges.

The software builds its database by obtaining publicly available photos of people from webpages and social media platforms. Then, it analyzes the faces in those images to create a person’s so-called faceprint. To refine its accuracy in tagging images, the software combines the faceprint with people’s personal information, such as their name. Even if a person deletes a photo, the image will still be accessible in Clearview AI’s database.

Upon filing the lawsuit, the ACLU stated that Clearview AI has violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. This law prohibits companies from collecting and storing individuals’ biometrics, like fingerprints or face scans, without consent.

The civil rights group claimed that Clearview AI’s software can put people’s privacy and identity at risk, making them vulnerable to identity theft, data breaches, and unlawful surveillance.

In response, Clearview AI asserted that the lawsuit is unreasonable. According to the company, nationally recognized authorities have evaluated its service to make sure that it is not violating any laws.

In addition, Clearview AI’s founder said in an interview that the company has taken measures to ensure that its technology is not used inappropriately.

A blog entry on the company’s website also states that only law enforcement and security personnel may access the AI service, and it should only be used for legitimate investigative purposes.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• How should Clearview AI handle individuals’ personal information (e.g. delete it, create rules for accessing it)? Discuss.
• Do you think law enforcement should continue using Clearview AI’s tool? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Aside from facial recognition, what technology can be used to track down criminals (e.g. GPS tracking, drones)? Discuss.
• How can authorities ensure that the technology will be used properly?