Clearview’s Artificial Intelligence (AI’s) Facial Recognition Tool: Australian Police Have Run Hundreds of Searches With Zero Accountability

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Clearview’s Artificial Intelligence (AI’s) Facial Recognition Tool: Australian Police Have Run Hundreds of Searches With Zero Accountability

BACKGROUND

What exactly is Clearview AI? This private company uses a database of 3 billion images scraped together from Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and other websites, which allows agencies across the globe to use photos of suspects and reverse engineer to make an identity of the suspect. This has triggered responses across the board, including human rights concerns from academics and privacy experts.

Multiple agencies including the Australian Federal Police and State forces in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland have dozens of registered accounts with this private facial recognition software company, Clearview AI.

Both US law enforcement and Australian police agencies initially denied using the software until it was all leaked as an intruder stole its entire client list according to a statement made by the company. Clearview is not currently available to the general public, but it does offer free trials to law enforcement officers who can sign up using their official government emails.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Lack of accountability is one of the fundamental flaws within this system. The push by Department of Home Affairs, which oversees our Federal Police, has attempted to legitimize this facial recognition tool by pushing the bill but eventually gotten knocked back. This would have allowed for the Department to create and maintain facilities for sharing facial images and other sensitive information between government and non-government agencies. It would have also allowed to access driver license database and photographs held by states and territories. There was four recommendations and for it to be built on “parliamentary oversight and reasonable, proportionate and transparent functionality”.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has now confirmed that it’s begun making inquiries into whether Australian’s personal information is being used within their database for the purpose of facial recognition.

PRIVACY COMMISSIONER INQUIRY

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner will begin to inquire regarding whether this software is being drafted into Australia or if does in-fact contain information on Australians that may be deemed sensitive. This will eventually determine if further action is required.

Hoan Ton-That, creator of Clearview AI, has previously confirmed that it is being used in Australia. He states that “We have a few customers in Australia who are piloting the tool, especially around child exploitation cases”.

Dr Mann has outlined Australia current lack of any formal regulation to handle the growing facial recognition technology

THE LAW

The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) outlines that if any organisation or agency collecting any ‘sensitive’ information, they must first obtain consent to do so.

The definition of what ‘sensitive’ is outlined as any form of “biometric information which is your face, fingerprints, eyes and more would be defined as sensitive information”

Although, like many laws, there are exceptions to this rule. Information that is considered “necessary” to prevent such a threat to the life, health or safety of any individual.

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