France becomes latest country to censor Clearview AI for privacy breaches
Another international privacy regulator is taking on Clearview AI. The company’s latest legal issues come from France, where the National Commission for Informatics and Freedoms (CNIL) ruled that Clearview’s practices violate European Union (EU) data protection laws. GDPR. As a result, the CNIL ordered Clearview to delete the personal information of French citizens stored in its databases.
Clearview could face financial penalties under EU law if it does not comply with the order. In this regard, France’s move echoes that of the UK Information Commissioner’s office, which said the company could face fines of up to £ 17million for violating UK privacy laws. It could also create more complications for Clearview in the future. The authority of the CNIL is limited to France, but the GDPR laws on which the decision (and fines) is based extend to the whole of the EU. This means that any fine imposed on Clearview in France could be replicated elsewhere if other EU states followed CNIL’s footsteps.
On this front, privacy advocates have already filed complaints against Clearview AI in Greece, Italy and Austria. The information commissioners of Canada and Australia have also ordered Clearview to suspend operations (and delete citizen data) in their respective countries. However, Canada’s federal privacy commissioner lacks the power to impose fines, which could make EU affairs more immediately worrying for a company worried about its bottom line.
For its part, the CNIL notably ruled that Clearview was collecting and using the biometric data of people without obtaining their consent and without establishing a legal basis for doing so. The agency has given Clearview two months to comply with its order and stop processing data from French citizens, at which point the company could begin to face mounting penalties.
In its response, Clearview argued that it does not need to follow European laws as it currently does not have offices or paying customers in France or the European Union. The Crimes Against Children unit of Interpol (based in France) has nevertheless carried out more than 300 searches with Clearview technology, while the French Ministry of the Interior has carried out more than 400. The Crimes Against Children unit acknowledged the searches, but pointed out that they were carried out with free trial software that Clearview provided to law enforcement agencies.
Sources: BuzzFeed News, The Verge
January 3, 2022 – by Eric Weiss