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Clearview offers its controversial tech to lawyers

Clearview will offer its controversial tech, typically only available to law enforcement, to public defenders.

James Harber / EyeEm / Getty Images

In 2019, a public defender asked controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI to find a witness who could prove his client wasn’t the driver in a fatal crash.

Clearview agreed, and an innocent man was cleared.

Now, Clearview will offer its tech — typically used by law enforcement — to certain public defenders and lawyers in what CEO Hoan Ton-That calls a move to “balance the scales of justice,” per The New York Times.

Clearview’s database…

… comes from billions of faces scraped from across the internet, meaning it could have your biometric data without your consent from photos you didn’t even take or upload.

While Clearview is banned in several countries — including Britain, France, Australia, and Canada — it claims 3.1k+ US agencies use it.

Privacy advocates say that’s bad because:

  • Nonsuspects essentially appear in virtual lineups
  • Facial recognition isn’t alway accurate — especially when identifying people of color — and could result in wrongful accusations or convictions

Does offering it to lawyers change anything?

Some critics told the NYT it feels like a PR stunt that doesn’t address concerns about privacy, accuracy, or transparency.

But others say a public defender still might use whatever tools are available to help their client, concerns aside.

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