On May 4, 2020, our privacy attorneys filed a class action lawsuit against Clearview AI, Inc., alleging that Clearview has collected personal photographs and other data from across the internet without consent, and used them to create a profitable surveillance database.
According to our complaint, Clearview scrapes images and other data from several social media platforms, including Google, YouTube, Facebook, Venmo, LinkedIn, and Twitter. These companies prohibit data scraping from their platforms, and have even sent cease-and-desist letters to Clearview, as our complaint describes. Further, as alleged, Clearview does not obtain consent from, or even notify, the individuals whose data it scrapes from these platforms.
As our complaint describes, Clearview has used these photographs and other data to construct a searchable database of over 3 billion photographs, complete with advanced facial recognition software. This software is highly profitable—Clearview has sold it not just to law enforcement, but also to businesses, educational institutions, and foreign governments, among others, as described in our complaint.
Read the complaint here: Clearview AI Class Action Complaint
Since this lawsuit began, Clearview announced a court filing that it “is cancelling the accounts of every customer who was not either associated with law enforcement or some other federal, state, or local government department, office, or agency.” It also announced “cancelling all accounts belonging to any entity based in Illinois,” and that it “will not collect facial vectors from images that contain metadata associating them with Illinois.”
Clearview AI Lawsuits: Class Actions Filed
Several lawsuits have been filed against Clearview AI. One lawsuit is on behalf of California and Illinois residents, and alleges that Clearview illicitly scraped hundreds of websites without giving prior notice or gaining consent. Clearview obtained billions of Facebook, Twitter, and Google customer’s faces, and then used this information to create a facial recognition database and “Faceprints” for thousands of customers, according to the complaint. The lawsuit further claims that Clearview then sold access to the “Faceprints” of billions of people to law enforcement agencies and private companies across the country.
Clearview’s actions are allegedly in violation of California and Illinois privacy protection statutes. Our firm will continue to investigate.
Clearview AI Data Breach: Facial Recognition Clients Exposed
Clearview AI is a facial recognition company holding more than 3 billion images scraped from millions of different websites, including Facebook, YouTube, and Venmo. According to The New York Times, the technology can not only identify a person, but could also reveal people’s “names… where they lived, what they did and whom they knew.” When a user uploads a photo of someone’s face into the system, Clearview can potentially match that person’s face with all their previously scraped photos, and also provide links to the sites where each of these photos came from, the article states.
On February 26, 2020, Daily Beast reported that Clearview AI had its client list stolen. Many media outlets have expressed concern with Clearview’s February data breach, and the information the company holds. According to Recode, this breach is a
scary prospect considering the sheer amount and scope of personal information in its database, as well as the fact that access to it is supposed to be restricted to law enforcement agencies.
Indeed, Clearview’s software has reportedly been used by more than just law enforcement. Buzzfeed, which claims to have gained access to the list of clients, names clients of Clearview which include Walmart, Macy’s, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and even the NBA. Recode states,
Not only does the client list revealed in the leaked documents include references hundreds of local police departments as well as federal agencies like ICE, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), and the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, but it also shows that retail companies like Best Buy, Walmart, and Macy’s have conducted trials with Clearview.
According to The Times, Clearview has “shrouded itself in secrecy;” hiding behind limited contact information and avoiding debates about its boundaries. People’s personal information may be at risk. Speak with an attorney to learn more about your options.
Our Firm's Winning Data Breach and Privacy Expertise
Gibbs Law Group is a leader in emerging litigation involving consumer privacy and data security. Our data breach and privacy team has achieved groundbreaking reforms and recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for plaintiffs in cutting-edge, high-profile cases, including lawsuits against Equifax, Anthem, Adobe, VIZIO, Lenovo, and Banner Health. Our attorneys helped negotiate record-breaking settlements, including the $1.5 billion Equifax Data Breach settlement and the $115 million Anthem Data Breach settlement. We secured a $17 million settlement in the VIZIO smart TV class action lawsuit that forced VIZIO to delete all of the data it wrongfully collected. Our attorneys were also appointed by a federal judge to serve in a leadership position in privacy litigation against Zoom.
Eric Gibbs co-founded the American Association for Justice’s Data Breach and Privacy Litigation Group and has been recognized with numerous accolades for his privacy work, including a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) award for the Anthem Data Breach Lawsuit settlement, and has been named a “Top Plaintiff Lawyer in California” by the Daily Journal and a “Cybersecurity and Privacy MVP” and “Consumer Protection MVP” by Law360. In addition, Gibbs Law Group partners Andre Mura and David Berger have been recognized for their data breach and privacy expertise. Andre Mura was honored as one of the Top Cybersecurity/ Privacy Attorneys Under 40 by Law360 and David Berger is the current chair of the American Association for Justice’s Data Breach and Privacy Litigation Group, contributes to a data privacy think tank, and consults with state and federal legislators on data breach and privacy issues.