The New York Times published an expose on a data firm called Clearview AI that scrapes pictures from across the Internet in order to help law enforcement quickly identify suspects. Many of these photos come from Facebook. Now, Facebook has demanded that the company stop gathering user data for its facial recognition database.
Facebook isn’t the only tech giant to stand up for its users; Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube have all sent cease-and-desist letters. However, it’s notable that while Facebook “demanded” Clearview AI stop scraping user info, it has not yet taken legal steps to stop the practice. Regardless, experts are in agreement with these moves, noting that firms like Clearview have proven untrustworthy with our data.
“Clearview says you may be worried about our technology, but it’s just used by police departments to catch terrorists and keep you safe,” WIRED Editor-in-Chief Nick Thompson told CBS News. “But if we know anything from the history of technology and the history of Silicon Valley, it’s that the initial intended use is not the only use.”
Of course, Facebook doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to accusing companies of mishandling user data. Facebook itself possesses massive amounts of our biometric data, and likely wishes that it had even more. Still, it’s a victory if Facebook does anything at all to protect our info.
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