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Clearview AI Facial Recognition Firm Faces EUR 200-Million Fine in Italy Over Controversial Data Collection

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Italy’s data privacy watchdog on Wednesday fined US-based firm Clearview AI EUR 20 million (roughly Rs. 168.44 crore) over its controversial facial recognition software. The watchdog ordered the company to delete data relating to people in Italy and banned it from further collection and processing of information there.

Clearview AI says it has built up a database of more than 10 billion facial images taken from public websites, from social media to news sites, which it touts as a tool for law enforcement.

Italy’s privacy watchdog said that, despite Clearview’s assertions to the contrary, the firm had allowed the tracking of citizens and people in Italy. “The personal data held by the company, including biometric and geolocation data, are processed unlawfully,” the watchdog said. The company had also violated several principles of GDPR, a European Union privacy regulation introduced in 2018 to control who can access personal data.

In addition to the fine, the watchdog said Clearview should designate an EU representative to act as “an interlocutor” with plaintiffs.

Campaigners have condemned Clearview’s use of images for being open to abuse, and a number of groups including Privacy International last year filed complaints with data regulators in France, Austria, Italy, Greece and Britain. In December, France’s privacy watchdog ordered Clearview to delete data on its citizens and cease further collection. Meanwhile in June last year, Canada’s independent parliamentary watchdog ruled that both Clearview’s database and the use of it by federal police were illegal.


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