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Thread: The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

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    Avalon Member Tangri's Avatar
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    Default The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

    An Australian techie and onetime model — did something momentous: He invented a tool that could end your ability to walk down the street anonymously, and provided it to hundreds of law enforcement agencies, ranging from local cops in Florida to the F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security.

    His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.

    “The weaponization possibilities of this are endless,” said Eric Goldman, co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. “Imagine a rogue law enforcement officer who wants to stalk potential romantic partners, or a foreign government using this to dig up secrets about people to blackmail them or throw them in jail.”

    Clearview has shrouded itself in secrecy, avoiding debate about its boundary-pushing technology. When I began looking into the company in November, its website was a bare page showing a nonexistent Manhattan address as its place of business. The company’s one employee listed on LinkedIn, a sales manager named “John Good,” turned out to be Mr. Ton-That, using a fake name. For a month, people affiliated with the company would not return my emails or phone calls.

    Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Ton-That met in 2016 at a book event at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. Mr. Schwartz, now 61, had amassed an impressive Rolodex working for Mr. Giuliani in the 1990s and serving as the editorial page editor of The New York Daily News in the early 2000s. The two soon decided to go into the facial recognition business together: Mr. Ton-That would build the app, and Mr. Schwartz would use his contacts to drum up commercial interest.

    One of the odder pitches, in late 2017, was to Paul Nehlen — an anti-Semite and self-described “pro-white” Republican running for Congress in Wisconsin — to use “unconventional databases” for “extreme opposition research,” according to a document provided to Mr. Nehlen and later posted online. Mr. Ton-That said the company never actually offered such services.

    The company soon changed its name to Clearview AI and began marketing to law enforcement. That was when the company got its first round of funding from outside investors: Mr. Thiel and Kirenaga Partners. Among other things, Mr. Thiel was famous for secretly financing Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit that bankrupted the popular website Gawker. Both Mr. Thiel and Mr. Ton-That had been the subject of negative articles by Gawker.



    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/18/t...cognition.html
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    Last edited by Tangri; 20th January 2020 at 23:48.
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    Canada Avalon Member TomKat's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

    From what little I've read, they are only cataloguing pictures of people who WANT to be publicly recognized. They're not harvesting driving license or other government-mandated photos. Just social media and other volunteer publications.

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    United States Avalon Member mpennery's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

    I predict an explosion of gear that prevents facial recognition in public. You can already buy glasses and shirts that do but these will become more sophisticated and less obvious.

    Matt
    Fear is simply a consequence of a lack of information.

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    Avalon Member Tangri's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

    Quote Posted by TomKat (here)
    From what little I've read, they are only cataloguing pictures of people who WANT to be publicly recognized. They're not harvesting driving license or other government-mandated photos. Just social media and other volunteer publications.
    Correct but they are screening background face recognition. It means when you are passing a teenager while she/ he is taking a selfie , you are in the system.
    Last edited by Tangri; 29th January 2020 at 03:11.
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