Letter Text (PDF)
Boston (November 20, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, sent a letter today to Clearview AI demanding answers from the company on its facial recognition technology. In his letter, Senator Markey expressed serious concerns about Clearview AI’s mass collection of biometric information without individual consent, arguing that Clearview AI’s practices pose serious threats to privacy rights and civil liberties, particularly for people of color. A recent report indicated that a Louisiana Sheriff’s Office relied on incorrect Clearview AI results in the wrongful arrest of a Black Georgia resident who never visited to Louisiana.
In the letter to Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That, Senator Markey wrote: “Facial recognition technologies — and Clearview AI’s system, in particular — pose a serious threat to privacy rights and civil liberties. Particularly in the context of law enforcement use of your product, the American people should not have to forgo personal privacy for public safety. If Clearview AI is serious about participating in Congress’ work to regulate artificial intelligence, I urge your company to consider the privacy risks of facial recognition technology and be transparent about your company’s development and use of its facial recognition system.”
The Senator requests that Clearview AI respond to the following questions by December 11, 2023:
- Please describe Clearview AI’s process for storing the photos that it scrapes from the Internet and the face prints (or facial vectors) that it detects in those photos.
- Please identify the data that Clearview AI has used to train its facial recognition algorithm(s).
- Does Clearview AI track the race, gender, ethnicity, age, and other demographic indicators of individuals in images submitted for and generated by its clients’ searches?
- Although Clearview AI has submitted algorithms to testing by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, that testing is not designed to replicate real-world conditions. Has Clearview AI tested the accuracy and reliability of its system in conditions equivalent to real-world uses by law enforcement, including use on low-quality probe images and use by poorly trained or untrained law enforcement personnel? If so, was that testing conducted by an independent auditor? If so, please provide the results of this test.
- Please identify all Clearview AI’s public and private sector clients that have access to Clearview AI’s database, including federal government entities such as intelligence and law enforcement agencies and state and local government entities such as public schools.
- Please identify all Clearview AI’s public and private clients that have purchased licenses to use Clearview AI’s facial recognition algorithm.
- Has Clearview AI ever revoked access to its facial recognition algorithm from a law enforcement agency?
- Please describe the process an individual must undergo to remove their face prints (or facial vectors) and photos from Clearview AI’s database.
- Has Clearview AI changed its cybersecurity practices following the 2020 hack? If so, please describe the changes. If not, why not?
- Has Clearview AI developed any product that would permit real-time identification of individuals using its facial recognition technologies?
- Does Clearview AI attempt to obtain consent or identify another legal basis to collect, maintain, or use personal information where required by law?
Senator Markey has called on the federal government to hold facial recognition technology companies accountable. In March, Senators Markey and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), along with Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), led their colleagues in reintroducing the Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act to prevent the government from using facial recognition and other biometric technologies. In February 2022, he and his colleagues sent a letter to federal agencies calling on them to end their use of Clearview AI facial recognition technology. In June 2020, Senator Markey pressed Clearview AI on reports that the company’s facial recognition technology was used to track and monitor peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors. In April 2020, he questioned Clearview AI about its possible role in marketing facial recognition software to government entities for tracking COVID-19 patients. In March 2020, Senator Markey raisedconcerns about the company’s foreign sales to authoritarian governments and processing of children’s data. In January 2020, Senator Markeysounded the alarm about the company selling its facial recognition product to more than 600 law enforcement agencies.