The governments of the UK and Australia are investigating a
company that grabbed billions of people's pictures from across the internet for use in its database. The inquiry will look at Clearview AI and whether its scraping and handling of data violated the UK Data Protection Act and the Australian Privacy Act.
"The investigation highlights the importance of enforcement cooperation in protecting the personal information of Australian and UK citizens in a globalised data environment," says a Thursday statement from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the UK's Information Commissioner's Office.
Clearview AI's CEO, Hoan Ton-That, said the company would be cooperating with the investigation, and he defended the company's practices.
"Clearview AI searches publicly available photos from the internet in accordance with applicable laws. It is used to help identify criminal suspects," Ton-That said. "Its powerful technology is currently unavailable in the UK and Australia. Individuals in these countries can opt out."
The joint investigation comes three days after the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said that Clearview AI will be leaving Canada in response to a separate investigation by that agency.
The office of Canada's privacy commissioner said it's still investigating how Canadian police used the facial recognition tool, and how Clearview AI would delete data belonging to Canadians.
"The investigation of Clearview by privacy protection authorities for Canada, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec remains open. The authorities still plan to issue findings in this matter given the importance of the issue for the privacy rights of Canadians," the office said in a statement on July 6.