Facial recognition surveillance company Clearview AI has agreed to permanently ban Most private companies use their service under a court agreement. the deal, filed in Illinois court todaywould settle a 2020 American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit which alleged that the company had built its business on facial recognition data taken without user consent. The settlement formalizes actions Clearview has already taken and protects the company from further lawsuits by the ACLU under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).
As part of the settlement, Clearview agrees to a nationwide permanent injunction restricting its sale (or free distribution) of access to a vast database of headshots, many of which were originally social media scraping like facebook The injunction bars the company from dealing with most private companies and individuals across the country, including government employees not acting on behalf of their employers. You also may not deal with any state or local government agency in Illinois for five years. In addition to trying to remove any photos of Illinois residents, you must maintain an opt-out program for residents who want to block any searches using their face or prevent their photos from being collected.
Clearview can still work with federal agencies and local police departments, as long as they are outside of Illinois.
The ACLU hailed the agreement as a victory. “By requiring Clearview to comply with Illinois’ groundbreaking biometric privacy law, not just in the state, but across the country, this settlement demonstrates that strong privacy laws can provide real protections against abuse,” said Deputy Director of the ACLU Technology, Privacy and Speech Project. Nathan Freed Wessler. “Clearview can no longer treat people’s unique biometric identifiers as an unlimited source of profit. Other companies would be wise to take note, and other states should follow Illinois’ lead in enacting strong biometric privacy laws.”
Illinois is so far one of the only states to have enacted a biometric privacy law, making it a hub for activists trying to fight privacy-eroding facial recognition tools. Meta, before Facebook, agreed to pay $650 million under a BIPA class action lawsuit last year.
clearview already declared in 2020 that it would stop working with private companies, cutting out a list that once apparently included Bank of America, Macy’s and Walmart. The company has instead focused on working with thousands of local police departments Y federal agencies such as the Department of Justice, which have used it controversially for both general-purpose police work and unusual events like the Capitol riot of January 6, 2021.
These contracts are still allowed outside of Illinois under the agreement, though Clearview will no longer offer free trial access to individual police officers without the departments’ knowledge. But the practice faces opposition from some state and local governments, where lawmakers have restricted government use from all facial recognition databases, including Clearview’s.