ACLU sues Clearview AI, developer of controversial facial recognition technology used by CPD

ACLU sues Clearview AI, developer of controversial facial recognition technology used by CPD

The lawsuit against Clearview alleges the company violates the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. | Getty

“Companies like Clearview will end privacy as we know it, and must be stopped,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.

The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed suit in Cook County against Clearview AI, a New York-based startup that has developed a controversial facial recognition tool that allows users to compare an image against a database of billions of photos lifted from the internet.

The lawsuit against Clearview — which has provided its program to various public and private entities, including the Chicago Police Department — alleges the company continues to violate the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which protects residents’ facial and fingerprint identifiers.

The lawsuit “is the first to force any face recognition surveillance company to answer directly to groups representing survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, undocumented immigrants, and other vulnerable communities uniquely harmed by face recognition surveillance,” according to a statement.

The complaint was filed by the ACLU, the ACLU of Illinois, the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, the Sex Workers Outreach Project, the Illinois State Public Interest Research Group and Mujeres Latinas en Accion.

“Companies like Clearview will end privacy as we know it, and must be stopped,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “This menacing technology gives governments, companies, and individuals the unprecedented power to spy on us wherever we go — tracking our faces at protests, AA meetings, political rallies, places of worship and more.

“The ACLU is taking its fight to defend privacy rights against the growing threat of this unregulated surveillance technology to the courts, even as we double down on our work in legislatures and city councils nationwide.”

Clearview has also been hit with a series of federal lawsuits over alleged violations of the same state law, which aims to protect the biometric data of Illinois residents. Four of those suits have been lodged in the Northern District of Illinois, with the most recent filing coming last week.

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