Clearview AI, a North American company specializing in facial recognition, has begun supplying its software to Ukrainian authorities. This would be used to identify people, but also to fight against misinformation.
Clearview AI has found a promising new theater of use. Since Saturday March 12, 2022, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has started using facial recognition technology from Clearview AI, the controversial American start-up founded by billionaire Peter Thiel. The company's technology should allow the identification of Ukrainian refugees, Russian soldiers or any persons of interest at checkpoints, but also to fight misinformation and identify the dead.
“This database can help Ukraine identify the dead more easily than trying to match fingerprints, and works even if there is facial damage,” said Hoan Ton-That, the director General of Clearview. He also said facial recognition technology could be used to reunite separated refugees with their families, identify Russian agents and help the government debunk fake war-related social media posts.
A tool already banned in some countries
But here as elsewhere, the use of Clearview AI is legitimately debated. “Once you bring these systems and associated databases into a war zone, you have no control over how they will be used and misused,” said Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of Surveillance Technology Oversight. Project quoted by Reuters.
Clearview AI mainly equips law enforcement in the United States where more than 2400 police offices would make regular use of it. Several countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, have also banned its use on their territory. In France, the Cnil came forward in December 2021, demanding that the company cease all collection and use of data from French people to feed its facial recognition software.