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Court order may shut down Clearview (bloomberglaw.com)
30 points by BigBalli 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 7 comments

We need more precedents for blocking facial recognition so people can stop using the term "unprecedented" in such cases.

The author of the original NY Times expose issued something of a mea culpa about 6 weeks ago: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/03/18/magazine/faci...

Here are the first four paragraphs

> In May 2019, an agent at the Department of Homeland Security received a trove of unsettling images. Found by Yahoo in a Syrian user’s account, the photos seemed to document the sexual abuse of a young girl. One showed a man with his head reclined on a pillow, gazing directly at the camera. The man appeared to be white, with brown hair and a goatee, but it was hard to really make him out; the photo was grainy, the angle a bit oblique. The agent sent the man’s face to child-crime investigators around the country in the hope that someone might recognize him.

> When an investigator in New York saw the request, she ran the face through an unusual new facial-recognition app she had just started using, called Clearview AI. The team behind it had scraped the public web — social media, employment sites, YouTube, Venmo — to create a database with three billion images of people, along with links to the webpages from which the photos had come. This dwarfed the databases of other such products for law enforcement, which drew only on official photography like mug shots, driver’s licenses and passport pictures; with Clearview, it was effortless to go from a face to a Facebook account.

> The app turned up an odd hit: an Instagram photo of a heavily muscled Asian man and a female fitness model, posing on a red carpet at a bodybuilding expo in Las Vegas. The suspect was neither Asian nor a woman. But upon closer inspection, you could see a white man in the background, at the edge of the photo’s frame, standing behind the counter of a booth for a workout-supplements company. That was the match. On Instagram, his face would appear about half as big as your fingernail. The federal agent was astounded.

> The agent contacted the supplements company and obtained the booth worker’s name: Andres Rafael Viola, who turned out to be an Argentine citizen living in Las Vegas. Another investigator found Viola’s Facebook account. His profile was public; browsing it, the investigator found photos of a room that matched one from the images, as well as pictures of the victim, a 7-year-old. Law-enforcement officers arrested Viola in June 2019. He later pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a child and producing images of the abuse.

Also, this will be done, it is being done. Every city in the world with cameras is making a decision to either discard the footage or use it. Eventually the costs will align for every city in a way that using the footage makes sense. Then they'll do it. Better to think through the issues early, so at least you have the option of thinking through them often.

EDIT - In their filing, Clearview states that they’ve changed their business practices and have cancelled all accounts of non-government customers. They promise to inform the court if that changes during the lawsuit. But not after. So… They promise that they’ve changed - to make the lawsuit go away - but that once the lawsuit is gone they are free to go back to doing what they’ve always done. That is an insane argument to make in a court filing.

Another hilarious thing is that they also claim to have blocked customers from searching photos that have GPS metadata identifying them as from Illinois. Blocked from searching, not deleting. Yeah, that’s admitting to a continued violation of the law. Read the law again.

They say they’ve created an opt-out program for Illinois residents, when the law actually says that it must be opt-in. WTF?

I’d really like to read the response to this filing!

How useful has facial recognition been during Covid with masking?

If Apple can't make FaceID work properly at close range with a 3D IR camera when you wear a mask, I don't think a fuzzy security camera shot of a face with a mask is going to get recognized.

Alternate link that’s not paywalled?

The brief is not paywalled.


> Plaintiffs ask the Court to do something that no court appears to have ever done before—issue a preliminary injunction under the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”). Plaintiffs make their unprecedented requestbased on noevidence of a BIPA violation or imminent harm to the putative class. They submit not a single affidavit or declaration in support,and offer nothing more than citations to newspaper articles in support of their claims. That alone is sufficient reason to deny Plaintiffs’ motion, which requires them to come forward with evidencein support of their claims. Instead of providing evidence, Plaintiffs focus on their own, unsubstantiated and speculative opinions of the “dangers” of Clearview’s product, while ignoring the substantial, concrete harm that Clearview and the public would experience if an injunction issued. Plaintiffs’ speculation does not warrant a grant of the “extraordinary and drastic remedy” of a preliminary injunction. Goodman v. Ill. Dep’t of Fin. & Prof’l Regulation, 430 F.3d 432, 437 (7th Cir. 2005). Because it fails to satisfy every element necessary for an injunction to issue, Plaintiffs’ motion should be denied.

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