Clearview AI's client list leaks.
Clearview AI, a controversial company that scrapes billions of images from the internet and uses facial recognition to match people to their photos, disclosed that an intruder had gained access to its entire list of clients, the Daily Beast reports. The data that were accessed included the number of user accounts each customer had, as well as how many searches each of them had carried out. The company said the intruder didn't access clients' search histories, which Mashable points out could have had much more serious implications.
On Thursday, BuzzFeed published details gleaned from leaked internal company documents which showed that Clearview's clients include about 2,900 organizations across twenty-seven countries. While the company maintains that it only works with law enforcement, a number of private companies appeared in its list of customers, including Macy's, Kohl’s, Walmart, and the NBA. Some of these companies and law enforcement agencies were apparently unaware that their employees had used the app, and most of them only used free trials. Home Depot, for example, appears in Clearview's logs as having conducted nearly one-hundred searches from five accounts, but the company told BuzzFeed it didn't use the service. Likewise, the Raleigh Police Department in North Carolina suspended its contract with Clearview and prohibited its officers from using the app after the company declined to allow a full audit, but Raleigh police officers continued making use of the app by way of free trials.
One of Clearview's attorneys, Tor Ekeland, told BuzzFeed that "[t]here are numerous inaccuracies in this illegally obtained information. As there is an ongoing Federal investigation, we have no further comment." Responding to queries about the data breach, Ekeland told the Daily Beast in a statement, "Security is Clearview's top priority. Unfortunately, data breaches are part of life in the 21st century. Our servers were never accessed. We patched the flaw, and continue to work to strengthen our security."