France says facial recognition company Clearview violated privacy law

By Mathieu Rosemain

PARIS (Reuters) – France’s data privacy watchdog CNIL has ordered Clearview AI, a facial recognition company that has collected 10 billion images worldwide, to stop collecting and use the data of people based in the country.

In a formal notice disclosed on Thursday, the CNIL stressed that Clearview’s collection of publicly accessible facial images on social networks and the Internet had no legal basis and violated European Union rules on data confidentiality. .

The regulator said the software company, which is used as a face search engine to help law enforcement and intelligence agencies with their investigations, has not sought prior consent from those it has collected. the images online.

“These biometric data are particularly sensitive, in particular because they are linked to our physical identity (who we are) and allow us to be uniquely identified,” the authority said in a statement.

He adds that the New York firm did not grant the persons concerned adequate access to their data, in particular by limiting access to twice a year, without justification, and by limiting this right to the data accumulated over the 12 months preceding any request.

Clearview did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

EU law provides that citizens can request the deletion of their personal data from a private database. The CNIL said Clearview had two months to comply with its demands or it could face a sanction.

The decision follows several complaints, including one by advocacy group Privacy International. He is following a similar order from his Australian counterpart, who told Clearview to stop collecting images from websites and destroy data collected in the country.

The UK Information Commissioner’s office, which worked with Australians on the Clearview investigation, also said last month it intended to impose a fine of £ 17million (22 , $ 59 million) to Clearview for alleged data protection violations.

($ 1 = 0.7526 pounds)

(Report by Mathieu Rosemain)

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