🤦‍♀️ Meanwhile, in the United States…good luck walking down the street unnoticed

Let’s just say the push for privacy isn’t keeping pace in the US. In fact, a new facial recognition app being provided to law enforcement agencies just might, according to the New York Times, equal the end of privacy as we know it. 

  • Well that escalated quickly: It sure did. Local and federal authorities in 600 jurisdictions have used the app for shoplifting, theft and even murder cases. The company that makes the app is Clearview AI, which was started by Australian Hoan Ton-That (he was previously best known for an app that lets users paste Donald Trump hair on their photos so you know he’s legit).

  • How it works: When a picture of someone is uploaded on the app, it unlocks other public photos and the locations of those photos. Clearview AI has scraped Facebook, YouTube and other sites to get the data. As the NYT put it, this means people could lose their “ability to walk down the street anonymously.” 

How bad could it get?  

Many tech companies, including Google, could have created similar apps but declined because of the potential for misuse and abuse. 

  • Eric Goldman, co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, told the NYT, “The weaponization possibilities of this are endless. Imagine a rogue law enforcement officer who wants to stalk potential romantic partners, or a foreign government using this to dig up secrets about people to blackmail them or throw them in jail.”    

The Verdict

There’s likely no stopping Clearview AI or similar programs from becoming fixtures, unless the US enacts a stricter federal privacy law.