Daniel Leisegang at Eurozine:
In mid-January, The New York Times revealed that hundreds of law enforcement agencies and private companies across the world use a software called Clearview. It allows images of people to be identified within seconds, together with their name, address, occupation and contacts. The revelations are controversial for two reasons. First, Clearview identifies people using its own database of more than 3 billion private photos. By comparison, the FBI photo database has ‘only’ 640 million photos. The Clearview AI company scrapes the images from freely accessible internet sources – Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, as well as news and company websites – without people knowing. Second, it is not officially known which authorities actually use Clearview. So far, the software has been operating beyond the bounds of political or legal oversight.
If the programme were to appear in app stores, users could potentially identify anyone they wished: on the underground, on the street, at a protest.