Clearview AI sued in California by immigrant rights groups and activists
Clearview AI, the controversial company behind facial recognition software used by law enforcement, is sued in California by two immigrant rights groups to prevent the company’s surveillance technology from proliferating in the state .
The lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in California Superior Court in Alameda County, alleges Clearview AI software is still being used by federal and state law enforcement agencies to identify individuals, even though several cities California have banned the government’s use of facial recognition technology.
The lawsuit was filed by Mijente, NorCal Resist and four people who identify as political activists. Lawsuit Alleges Clearview AI Image Database Widely Violates the Privacy Rights of Individuals in California and that the Company’s “Mass Surveillance Technology Disproportionately Harms Immigrants and Communities of Color “.
Sejal Zota, an attorney for the parties who filed the lawsuit and general counsel for Just Futures Law, told CNN Business that the parties who filed the lawsuit are seeking an injunction to prevent the use of Clearview AI in California, as well as the removal facial scans from Californians that the company has collected.
“Clearview AI complies with all applicable laws and its conduct is fully protected by the First Amendment,” Floyd Abrams, an attorney for the company, said in a statement to CNN Business Tuesday.
Facial recognition technology has grown in prevalence – and controversy – in recent years, appearing everywhere from airport check-in lines to police departments and pharmacies. And while it may add a sense of security and convenience to the companies that deploy it, the technology has been widely criticized by privacy advocates who fear that it may include racial biases and that it could be used. misuse.
The lawsuit is the latest attempt by popular groups to crack down on facial recognition software, which is not widely regulated in the United States. In the absence of clear federal rules regarding the use of technology, a number of cities, such as San Francisco, Boston and Portland, Oregon – have banned the technology to some extent. A few states, including Illinois, California, and Washington, have related legislation that limits its use.
Zota said the parties who brought the lawsuit see Clearview’s technology “as a terrifying leap into a state of mass surveillance where people’s movements are tracked as soon as they leave their homes.” The individual complainants have participated in political movements that criticize the police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, he said.
“The ability to control their likeness and biometric identifiers – and to continue to engage in critical political discourse of police and immigration policy, safe from the threat of covert and invasive surveillance – is vital to plaintiffs, their members and their missions, ”the lawsuit says.
Clearview was sued last year in Illinois by the American Civil Liberties Union, who claimed in its complaint that the company’s technology violates that state’s 2008 Biometric Information Protection Act. In a statement, the ACLU alleged that Clearview was involved in “illegal and privacy-destroying surveillance activities.”
At the time, a lawyer for Clearview AI responded by saying that the ACLU lawsuit was “absurd.”
This trial is ongoing; Clearview filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in December, to which the ACLU responded in a legal brief, an ACLU spokesperson told CNN Business.
More recently, Clearview AI has also been declared illegal in Canada. The company has been ordered to remove Canadian faces from its database.