The American startup Clearview AI, which created a facial recognition algorithm and gathered a huge database of photos of different people from open sources, reported a data leak.
“Security is Clearview AI’s top priority. Unfortunately, data leaks are an integral part of life in the 21st century,” the company said in a BBC statement.
Recall that the activities of Clearview AR became widely known in late January when the newspaper The New York Times published an article on the company. According to the publication, the startup created a facial recognition service and set up a database of more than 3 billion photos. The company collects images for this base on social media and other sites, and the FBI, the United States police, and more than 600 other law enforcement agencies around the world have access to its services.
The Clearview AI algorithm allows customers to upload a photo of a person they are interested in the system and get a selection of their photos from the company database. All published images are accompanied by links to image sources. According to the NYT, Clearview AI technology really helps law enforcement officials solve crimes, but the company’s activities raise questions both in terms of collecting images for the database and in the reliability of data storage. And the leak confirms the validity of these problems.
At Clearview AI, they said that as a result of the attack, the hackers had access to the service’s client list. According to Daily Beast, the attackers also obtained information on the number of customer searches and the number of accounts for working with the service that was created by each of the departments.
The company announced the elimination of the vulnerability, promised to increase security and noted that the leak did not affect Clearview AI servers and systems.
Note that after the article was published on Clearview AI, the microblogging service Twitter, the social network Facebook and video hosting YouTube forced the company to stop collecting user photos.