Hackers Steal Billions of Photos from Clearview AI

Hackers Steal Billions of Photos from Clearview AI

Clearview AI is a startup which compiles billions of photos for facial recognition technology. The company said that it had lost its entire client list to hackers.

Clearview AI said that it patched the unspecified flaw that allowed the breach to happen.

Tor Ekeland is Clearview AI’s attorney. He said in a statement that security is the company’s top priority. Nevertheless, unfortunately, data breaches are a part of life.

Despite that fact, the company continues to strengthen its security procedures and that the flaw has been patched.

Daily Beast obtained Clearview AI’s notification sent to customers. The company told customers that the intruder gained unauthorized access to its customer list. This list includes various banks, law enforcement agencies, and police forces. Nevertheless, as the company claims, the person didn’t obtain any search histories conducted by customers, which include some police forces.


The company says that it has collected more than 3 billion photos from the internet, including pictures from popular social media platforms like Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

The New York Times investigation says that Clearview AI’s technology permitted law enforcement agencies to use its technology to match photos of unknown faces to people’s online images. After that, in January, the film garnered. The company can retain those photos in its database even if it is no longer available by interest users from the platforms or makes their accounts private.

Thus, it prompted cease-and-desist letters from tech giants Facebook (FB), Google (GOOGL), and Twitter (TWTR). Some states, including New Jersey, enacted a statewide ban for law enforcement agencies using Clearview. Simultaneously they were investigating the software.

Hoan Ton-That and Clearview AI

Hoan Ton-That is Clearview AI Founder and CEO. Earlier this month, in an interview with CNN Business, he downplayed concerns about his technology. He told CNN that he has a wish to build a great American company with the best intentions. He also said that he would never sell his product to China, Russia, or Iran and claimed that the technology is saving lives and solving crimes.

When the New York Times ran a front-page story, the firm drew national attention about its work with law enforcement agencies. The Times reported that the company scraped 3 billion images from the internet, including Venmo, Youtube, and Facebook. According to the paper, that process violated Facebook’s terms of service. According to the report, the resource drew the attention of hundreds of law-enforcement agencies. Agencies included the Department of Homeland Security and FBI. Nevertheless, in the follow-up story, The New York Times reported said that law-enforcement officials have been using tools to identify children who were victims of sexual abuse. One anonymous Canadian law-enforcement official told the paper that Clearview is the most significant breakthrough in the last decade for investigating that type of crime.

For example, in New Jersey, Clearview helped investigate a child predator ring. Police used Clearview in a sting for identifying a man before he showed up for what was believed to be a meeting with a minor. So, in this case, you can see how Clearview helped investigate a crime.