Clearview AI, the controversial facial recognition company is slapped with a fine of €20 million by the Italian data protection agency, for violating a number of its local data privacy laws.

These include an illegal collection of Italian citizens’ data and processing it for several purposes without letting them know. The agency has asked Clearview AI to stop processing its business in Italy, and delete all the data it holds on its citizens.

Italy Penalizes Clearview AI

Clearview AI, the Manhattan-based company that has gone controversial for the last couple of years for its facial recognition technology, is now hit with a hefty fine of €20 million from Italy’s data regulator – Garante per la Protezione dei Dati Personali.

Garante launched an investigation into Clearview AI’s business last year, after receiving several complaints and requests to analyze its controversial technology. Concluding it now, Garante announced fining the company for a number of violations of its data privacy law.

Though Clearview AI says it’s into a legal business by offering its facial recognition technology to aid law enforcement, the data collection method it follows puts it in hot water. As per its website, Clearview AI scrapes selfies off the internet to make a database of billions of faces, which will be powering its identity-matching service.

As this method was deemed unacceptable, several EU nations like Sweden, the UK, and France have demanded the company to stop doing its business, and even delete the data it collected so far. Now, Italy’s data regulator joins the list with similar demands, plus a penalty of €20 million. In its press note, Garante noted;

“The findings revealed that the personal data held by the company, including biometric and geolocation data, are processed illegally, without an adequate legal basis, which certainly cannot be the legitimate interest of the American company.”

Clearview AI’s CEO, Hoan Ton-That defended this by saying that they don’t “have a place of business in Italy or the EU, it does not have any customers in Italy or the EU, and does not undertake any activities that would otherwise mean it is subject to the GDPR.”


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