Judy Rae

On Local Government – A ‘Clearview ‘ of our dark secrets

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by Bob Pinzler

Facial recognition technology has improved exponentially over the past decade as processing capabilities and enhanced artificial intelligence algorithms have become available. Clearview AI has combined this technology with personal images posted on social media sites, into what is believed to be the world’s most ubiquitous database of facial recognition information

According to the The New York Times and their podcast “The Daily,” Clearview has scraped billions of images from Facebook and other social media sites to populate their database. The images come with links to the personal information users have posted on the sites. 

These images are allowed as evidence in court, because they were posted voluntarily to a public site. Thus, there is no expectation of privacy.

As of now, the primary marketing of Clearview’s capability has been to law enforcement. Among some of the reported uses have been to help police find child pornographers. In one specific case, an image that appeared in a mirror during an illegal photography session led to a match and an arrest.

Police departments have been provided better and better opportunities to do their jobs… to catch bad guys. At the same time, the information available to them to do their jobs becomes more and more revealing.

“I have nothing to hide,” many people will say when confronted with this choice. But, as we all know, we all do. The question now is how much are we willing to allow the police to know about us to secure our safety.

But the real issue is not whether a police department can find out these things about us. It is who else is going to get access to this data and how they will use it.

Clearview may discover a market of enticing size in making this information available to the private sector. Are we ready to lose whatever modicum of privacy we have forever? And, what will we gain from it? 

I think nothing that would be worth it.


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