Clearview App: Interference in Peoples’ Private Lives

Clearview App: Interference in Peoples’ Private Lives

There is a significant risk of intervening in people’s personal lives in the United States and other places. Hoan Ton-That’s most notable hits included an obscure iPhone game until recently. An app that allows people to put Donald Trump’s distinctive yellow hair in their photos.

An Australian techie and onetime model is Mr. Ton-That.  He did something momentous. Mr. Ton-That created a tool that might end a person’s ability to walk down the street anonymously. He provided the invention to law enforcement agencies. It ranged from the Department of Homeland Security and F.B.I to local cops in Florida.

Clearview artificial intelligence is a small company of Mr. Ton-That. He devised an app of groundbreaking facial recognition. You can take a picture of the person, upload it, and then get to see public photos of that person. Also, the links will appear where those photos were taken. The system’s backbone is a database of more than three billion images. Clearview claims to have the photos gathered from Venmo, Facebook, YouTube, and millions of other websites. It goes far beyond anything constructed before by the Silicon Valley giants or the United States government.

The co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University is Eric Goldman. He said that the app’s weaponization possibilities are endless. For example, a rogue law enforcement officer can stalk potential romantic partners. Moreover, foreign governments can dig up the secrets of people and throw them into jail or even blackmail them.

Clearview for Security Purposes

Technology that readily identifies individuals based on their faces has been taboo until now. That is because it is a radical invasion of privacy. Technological companies capable of creating such a tool were refraining themselves; Google’s chairman in 2011 said that this technology had held back from the company because it could be used terribly. San Francisco and other large cities barred police from using the application of face recognition.


In the past year, more than 600 law enforcement agencies started using Clearview without public scrutiny. Nevertheless, the company declined to provide its list of users. The New York Times published a report recently. They said that the app includes a programming language to pair it with augmented-reality glasses. That means the user of the app can use the glasses to identify every person they see. They can identify activists at a protest. Moreover, they can identify an attractive stranger on the subway, revealing where they lived, what their names are, and whom they know.

State and Federal law enforcement officers were widely using this app. They were using it to help solve child sexual exploitation cases, murder, identity theft, credit card fraud, and shoplifting. Nevertheless, they acknowledged that they had limited knowledge about who is behind the app and how Clearview works.

For security purposes, Clearview licensed the app to at least a handful of companies.

Clearview shrouded itself in secrecy. It avoids debating its boundary-pushing technology.

All in all, facial recognition technology was always controversial. It makes everyone nervous about Big Brother. The technique tends to deliver false matches for certain groups, like color and people. Nevertheless, there are some facial recognition products used by the policy.

Let’s see if the United States will follow in China’s footsteps in terms of its authoritarian control over its citizens.