Clearview AI to sell technology to private sector as well as government agencies

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Written by

John Hewitt Jones

Facial recognition technology company Clearview AI is looking to sell services to banks and other private sector companies in addition to working with government agencies.

Clearview co-founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That told the Associated Press Friday of the company’s further growth plans, responding to a recent federal court filing that suggested the company may be up for sale.

“We don’t have any plans to sell the company,” Ton-That said. According to the executive, the company is instead looking to launch an identity verification venture to compete with the likes of Amazon and Microsoft.

Clearview will look to sell a new “consent-based” product to corporate customers that would use its algorithms to verify a person’s face but would not involve its database of more than 20 billion images.

The pivot back to private sector business comes after the company in 2020 said it was taking voluntary action to avoid transacting with non-governmental customers. Clearview made the claim in legal documents filed in an Illinois federal court.

Earlier that year, an investigation by Buzzfeed News found that the company had provided its facial recognition took to more than 2,200 police departments, government agencies, and companies across 27 countries. Internal documents reviewed by the news outlet at the time showed Macy’s, Walmart, Bank of America, and Target were among the companies to use Clearview’s facial recognition tool.

In the U.S., Clearview has notable contracts with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which on March 15 awarded a contract to Clearview for information technology componen

Other government departments that have struck contracts with Clearview include the FBI, the Department of the Army, the Air Force and the Department of Justice.

Clearview in March also started offering its services for free to the Ukrainian military, in part to help identify dead Russian soldiers using its database of about 2 billion images scraped from Russian social media.

In September last year, the company served a subpoena on a transparency nonprofit, seeking communications the group had with media in relation to scraping images and personal information from social media sites and selling data to law enforcement agencies.

Clearview subsequently withdrew the court order, after details of the subpoena became public.

This article was updated to clarify that a 2020 investigation by Buzzfeed News found Clearview AI has previously provided facial recognition tools to private sector companies.