Social Media Scraping AI Identification Platform Popular Among US Law Enforcement


You might recall an article that we did a couple of months back about a company that was scraping user account images from social media and then using that data to train a facial recognition artificial intelligence (AI) platform.

a group of people standing around a display of video screens
A group of people standing around a display of video screens. Photo by Maxim Hopman

That company, Clearview AI, made headlines today when it announced that 2,400 law enforcement agencies in the United States had used its facial recognition software to run a search.

How many searches you might ask?

About 1 million according to the CEO of the company, Hoan Ton-That.

This boast comes in the face of regulatory fines and public criticism of the company for its approach in developing its database.

The company’s CEO revealed this information to the UK’s BBC in an interview, Gizmodo reports. The claims have renewed debates about the need for comprehensive data protection laws.

“It’s appalling that a company could steal billions of our photos, but it’s even worse that the police are paying them for that data. The police should be investigating Clearview AI for theft, not awarding it contracts. This sort of surveillance capitalism chills democracy and puts us all at risk,” Surveillance Technology Oversight Project Executive Director Albert Fox Cahn remarked.

The report goes on to clarify that the company is actually moving away from private applications for its technology and, instead, seems to be focusing more on public applications such as with police forces and other government agencies. A law enforcement officer quoted by Gizmodo said that the force doesn’t make an arrest based on an algorithm, but that doesn’t do much to ease concerns surrounding privacy and individual rights.

And while there is no comprehensive regulation of personal data as of present, that could be changing.


Well, we’re not only seeing personal data getting stolen to help create artificial intelligence platforms, but we’re also seeing professional creators' work getting stolen for the same purpose. Typically, when you come after someone’s money, that’s when things get real. You might recall our article about the trillion-dollar lawsuit that we published not too long ago to give you some context.

What do you think of artificial intelligence companies scraping social media images off the Internet? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Author

Kehl is our staff photography news writer since 2017 and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here and follow him on Insta.

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