Secret Users Of Clearview AI’s Facial Recognition Dragnet Included A Former Trump Staffer, A Troll, And Conservative Think Tanks
After reading coverage about a new facial recognition tool, James deduced that Johnson had identified him using Clearview AI, a secretive company that’s claimed to have scraped more than 3 billion photos from social media and the web. Last month, a BuzzFeed News investigation found that people at more than 2,200 organizations have tried Clearview’s facial recognition technology, including federal entities such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, and private companies like Macy’s, the NBA, and Bank of America.
Prior to BuzzFeed News’ report, Clearview insisted its tool was strictly for law enforcement. “Clearview AI’s search engine is available only for law enforcement agencies and select security professionals to use as an investigative tool, and its results contain only public information,” the company wrote in a Jan. 27 blog post. “Accordingly, the Clearview app has built-in safeguards to ensure these trained professionals only use it for its intended purpose: to help identify the perpetrators and victims of crimes.”
Clearview, however, has shared its technology with organizations it designated as friends, conservative think tanks, Republican lawmakers, and more than 20 potential investors around the world, according to company documents seen by BuzzFeed News. A handful of those people have connections to the far right and the Trump administration, including CEO Hoan Ton-That, a MAGA-supporting mobile app developer, and cofounder Richard Schwartz, who was once an adviser to former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.