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Clearview AI Now Allows Canadians to Opt Out of Facial Recognition, but There’s a Catch

Ludovic Rembert
Last Updated on August 6, 2021
Clearview AI Now Allows Canadians to Opt Out of Facial Recognition, but There’s a Catch

After pressure over its questionable practices, Clearview AI has decided to allow Canadians to opt-out of its facial recognition database, but there’s a catch. If you’re a Canadian resident who wishes to remove yourself from the apps search results, you will have to provide a photograph of yourself when filling out the Canadian opt-out request form.

“Clearview does not maintain any sort of information other than publicly available photos. To find any Clearview search results that pertain to you (if any), we cannot search by name or any method other than image — so we need an image of you,” the website reads.

Clearview AI claims that the photographs submitted by users will be “de-identified” and will not appear in the app’s search results. Despite these claims, many users are understandably concerned about handing a “selfie” over to a firm that’s currently developing facial recognition software that may provide personal information about its users.

“De-Identification means that Clearview AI retains only a numerical hash of a photo for the sole purpose of removing persons in that photo from search results and preventing further collection,” said the CEO of Clearview AI, Hoan Ton-That, in an email to CBC News.

But this isn’t all the firm demands if you want to opt-out of appearing in Clearview AI search results.

Clearview AI will also ask for the email address of any Canadian who wishes to remove themself from the app so that a confirmation message can be sent once the opt-out request is complete. CEO Ton-That has yet to shed light on whether or not the firm plans on keeping the data on file, or if the photographs will be ever deleted.

Clearview AI Investigations Remain Open

This news comes just days after Clearview AI announced that its app would no longer be accessible in Canada amid an investigation by privacy protection authorities for Canada, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec. In response to the ongoing investigation regarding the collection of user data, Clearview AI claims it will no longer offer its facial-recognition software in Canada.

“Clearview AI has advised Canadian privacy protection authorities that, in response to their joint investigation, it will cease offering its facial recognition services in Canada,” read a news release from the Office of the Privacy Commission of Canada (OPC) on July 6th 2020.

Privacy Watchdog Daniel Therrien says that Clearview AI will also suspend its contract with RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), despite the police service formerly denying the use of Clearview AI’s facial recognition technology.

“This step includes the indefinite suspension of Clearview AI’s contract with the RCMP, which was its last remaining client in Canada,” the press release continued.

The investigation of Clearview AI by privacy protection authorities remains open.

Weeks after the announcement of the investigation of Clearview AI, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada launched an investigation into the RCMP’s use of Clearview AI’s facial recognition software. No further information is available at present.

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