Over 600 Law Enforcement Agencies Use Clearview AI

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Clearview AI, an artificial intelligence startup, has a facial recognition app that allows users to compare photos of people to any public photos of them online, breaks new ground in terms of facial recognition. Unlike other software, this app can identify people even if they’re not looking at the camera straight-on, or if they are wearing a hat or glasses. Although no independent agencies have tested the software for accuracy, over 600 law enforcement agencies including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, use it to identity suspects, according to a recent article in the New York Times.

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Police Officer

Clearview AI, started by Hoan Ton-That and financed by a former aide to Rudy Giuliani and the venture capitalist Peter Thiel, allows users to take photos of people, upload them to the Clearview AI app and see that person’s public photos which include links to where they originally appeared. The app has over three billion photos from Facebook, Venmo, Youtube, and millions of other sites, many more than the United States government or other tech companies have in their databases. Clearview is also working on a prototype for augmented-reality glasses that would allow users to search individual faces in their database, although Ton-That says he has no plans to release it.

Related: As Facial Recognition Becomes Mainstream, These Groups Are Misclassified The Most 

Law enforcement agencies at both the state and federal levels have used the Clearview AI app to solve cases including childhood sexual exploitation, credit card fraud, shoplifting, murder and more. While the police have been using facial recognition to identify suspects for the past two decades, Clearview AI’s software increases searchable photos by a significant margin. Clare Garvie, a researcher at the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University, told the New York Times,

“We have no data to suggest this tool is accurate…The larger the database, the larger the risk of misidentification because of the doppelgänger effect. They’re talking about a massive database of random people they’ve found on the internet.”

Clearview AI claims that it has a 75% accuracy rate, although it hasn’t been tested by a third party. Clearview AI did not immediately respond to an interview request.


Can police identify you from a picture?

Police may be able to identify you in a photo, but it depends if you’re in the database they’re using.

How do I use Google face recognition?

To use Google face recognition, first open Google Photos. Then click on Albums and then People. Once you’re on the People page, click on the three vertical dots in the upper right-hand corner and click Show & Hide Faces.

Is facial recognition a computing innovation?

Facial recognition is a computing innovation that’s being constantly improved upon, although it’s been used in some form since the mid-1960s.

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza Vigderman

Aliza is a journalist living in Brooklyn, New York. Throughout her career, her work has spanned many intersections within the tech industry. At SquareFoot, a New York-based real estate technology company, she wrote about the ways in which technology has changed the real estate industry, as well as the challenges that business owners face when they want to invest in property. At Degreed.com, an education technology website, Aliza created digital content for lifelong learners, exploring the ways in which technology has democratized education. Additionally, she has written articles for The Huffington Post as well as her own content on Medium, the online publishing platform. Aliza’s love of journalism and research stems from the excellent Journalism program at Brandeis University. At Brandeis, Aliza interned as a research assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit “news room without walls”. There, Aliza was paired with an investigative journalist and used academic databases to obtain data on everything from the suicide rates in Bhutan to local Boston court cases. Her last position was as an account executive at Yelp, educating business owners on the power of technology to increase revenue. Throughout, however, her heart remained with tech journalism, and she’s thrilled to be writing for Security Baron. When she’s not keeping afloat of the latest tech trends, Aliza likes to cook, read, and write. A former high school “Class Clown,” Aliza has completed two feature-length screenplays, a pilot, and countless comedic sketches. On her days off you can find her relaxing in Prospect Park, trying the latest flavors at Ample Hills Ice Cream, and spending time with friends and family.