Privacy and Security Law – The New Normal

Clearview AI Sued for Civil Rights Violations in Facial Recognition Data Breach

Facial Recognition

The temperature is rising in the data breach arena.  Clearview AI, which produces facial recognition technology widely used by law enforcement, suffered a massive data breach last month.

In a first for the data privacy and security world, the company is being prosecuted by the Vermont Attorney General for civil rights violations and “unfair” practices. 

Perhaps even more interesting than the nature of the claims is this: the Clearview database of faceprints allegedly relies, at least in part, on photos scraped from social media sites where users and their friends would have posted photos voluntarily. 

The shadowy nature of the Clearview business – it is not clear exactly who uses their services, but seems to be a combination of public agencies and private “security” – probably does not help the company seem aboveboard about a technology that makes regulators and consumers nervous.  It is likely that one state AG action will not be the end of it for Clearview; and that may create precedent for other data breach or facial recognition technology issues to support civil rights or unfair trade practices claims. 

In the absence of federal privacy legislation, the states are stepping in to protect consumers – sometimes by passing legislation and now by trying novel legal theories under existing laws.  This is a trend that bears watching. 

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