Clearview AI could be fined £17M from UK privacy watchdog

Ryan Daws is a senior editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience in crafting compelling narratives and making complex topics accessible. His articles and interviews with industry leaders have earned him recognition as a key influencer by organisations like Onalytica. Under his leadership, publications have been praised by analyst firms such as Forrester for their excellence and performance. Connect with him on X (@gadget_ry) or Mastodon (

Clearview AI is back in hot water, this time from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The controversial facial recognition giant has caught the attention of global privacy regulators and campaigners for its practice of scraping personal photos from the web for its system without explicit consent.

Clearview AI is expected to have scraped over 10 billion photos.

“Common law has never recognised a right to privacy for your face,” Clearview AI lawyer Tor Ekeland once argued.

The UK’s ICO launched a joint probe with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) into Cleaview AI’s practices.

Earlier this month, Australia’s Information Commissioner Angelene Falk determined that “the act of uploading an image to a social media site does not unambiguously indicate agreement to collection of that image by an unknown third party for commercial purposes.”

Falk ordered Clearview AI to destroy the biometric data that it collected on Australians and cease further collection.

While we’ve had to wait a bit longer for the UK’s take, this week the ICO decided to impose a potential fine of just over £17 million on Clearview AI. The company must also delete the personal data currently held on British citizens and cease further processing.

Elizabeth Denham, UK Information Commissioner, said:

“I have significant concerns that personal data was processed in a way that nobody in the UK will have expected. It is therefore only right that the ICO alerts people to the scale of this potential breach and the proposed action we’re taking.

UK data protection legislation does not stop the effective use of technology to fight crime, but to enjoy public trust and confidence in their products technology providers must ensure people’s legal protections are respected and complied with.

Clearview AI Inc’s services are no longer being offered in the UK. However, the evidence we’ve gathered and analysed suggests Clearview AI Inc were and may be continuing to process significant volumes of UK people’s information without their knowledge.

We therefore want to assure the UK public that we are considering these alleged breaches and taking them very seriously.”

Leaked documents suggest Clearview AI’s system was tested by UK authorities including the Metropolitan Police, Ministry of Defense, the National Crime Agency, and a number of police constabularies including Surrey, North Yorkshire, Suffolk, and Northamptonshire. However, the system is said to no longer be being used or tested in the UK.

Following the US Capitol raid earlier this year, Clearview AI boasted that police use of its facial recognition system increased 26 percent.

(Photo by ev on Unsplash)

Looking to revamp your digital transformation strategy? Learn more about the Digital Transformation Week event taking place virtually 30 November – 1 December 2021 and discover key strategies for making your digital efforts a success.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

View Comments
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply