Facial-Recognition Firm Clearview AI Ends Operations in Canada

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Clearview AI Inc. will no longer offer its services in Canada, suspending a contract with its last remaining client, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The move comes almost five months after privacy authorities at the federal level and in three provinces launched an investigation into the New York-based firm over allegations it collected personal information without consent and provided data to law enforcement.

That probe is still ongoing, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said in a statement Monday.

Clearview confirmed Tuesday that they will no longer operate in Canada. “We are proud of our record in assisting Canadian law enforcement to solve some of the most heinous crimes,” Chief Executive Officer Hoan Ton-That said in an emailed statement.

The company will continue to cooperate with the federal privacy commissioner on other related issues and Canadians will be able to opt-out of Clearview’s search results, he added.

At the end of February, the national watchdog opened a separate investigation into the RCMP’s use of Clearview AI’s facial recognition technology and it also plans to complete that inquiry.

“The investigation of Clearview by privacy protection authorities for Canada, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec remains open,” the privacy commissioner wrote. “The authorities still plan to issue findings in this matter given the importance of the issue for the privacy rights of Canadians.”

U.S. lawmakers are drafting new legislation to curtail the use of facial recognition by law enforcement and government agencies, harness public outrage over police misconduct and racial inequality.

But at least a quarter of all state and local police departments have access to a facial recognition system, according to a 2016 study by Georgetown University’s Center on Privacy & Technology. Tech giants have faced formidable competition from smaller providers like Clearview, which got a headstart to selling products.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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