Updated The UK's data protection body today made good on its threat to fine controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI, ordering it to stop scraping the personal data of residents from the internet, delete what it already has, and pay a £7.5 million ($9.43 million) fine.
The company, which is headquartered in New York, claims to have over 20 billion facial images on its databases, mostly culled from YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Clearview AI has developed a facial recognition tool – which it is attempting to patent – that is trained on these images. The tool attempts to match faces fed into its machine learning software with results from its enormous image database, which it claims is the largest of its kind "in the world" and which it sells (to law enforcement bodies, among other clientele) across the globe.
The move from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) comes after an investigation launched in 2020 in conjunction with the Australian Information Commissioner to see if Clearview had breached the Australian Privacy Act or the UK Data Protection Act 2018.