Law Street Media

Clearview AI Faces Fourth Lawsuit in a Month

A man having his face scanned by a security camera.

Plaintiffs Mario Calderon and Jennifer Rocio have filed a class action complaint against Clearview AI and CDW Government for “collecting, storing and using their and other similarly situated individuals’ biometric identifiers and biometric information…without informed written consent in direct violation of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA).” This is the fourth lawsuit that Clearview AI has faced for collecting biometrics without consent. Unlike the other suits, Clearview is joined by codefendant CDW Government.

The suit is filed in the New York Southern District Court. Plaintiffs are represented by Bursor & Fisher. The plaintiffs seek to represent a class defined as “all individuals who, while residing in the state of Illinois, had their biometric identifiers captured, collected, or obtained by Clearview at any point during the preceding five years.”

The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) states that “[b]iometrics are unlike other unique identifiers that are used to access finances or other sensitive information… Biometrics…are biologically unique to the individual; therefore, once compromised, the individual has no recourse, is at heightened risk for identity theft, and is likely to withdraw from biometric-facilitated transactions.” In order to obtain biometrics in compliance with BIPA, Clearview and CDW needed to inform users in writing of the collection and storage of biometrics, inform in writing about the purpose and length of time the biometrics would be collected, stored and used, obtain a written consent and release form and publish written retention schedules and guidelines for permanently destroying biometrics available to the public. The complaint has alleged that Clearview and CDW have failed to meet these requirements.

Clearview and CDW collected, stored and used people’s biometrics without informing them, obtaining their consent, nor publishing biometrics retention rules. Clearview has scraped over three billion photographs from social media and other sites, creating a large database for facial recognition. Clearview offers its services to law enforcement departments to identify people. Further, “Clearview sells its facial recognition tool through its Illinois-based agent CDW. CDW, on behalf of Clearview, licenses the Clearview app to law enforcement agencies or other entities.” The Chicago Police Department is one of Clearview’s clients, it has given 30 Crime Prevention and Information Center officers full access to Clearview’s tool.

Both Plaintiffs Calderon and Rocio believe their biometrics were scraped from various sites, such as Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, by Clearview. As a result, their rights have been violated through Clearview’s failure to meet BIPA requirements. They allege that their privacy has been invaded and as a result, they have lost control of their biometrics as it is now in Clearview’s database and various law enforcement agencies are able to use it.

Plaintiffs have sought a declaration of the BIPA violation and to award injunctive and equitable relief, awards of $5,000 in damages for each willful or reckless violation and $1,000 for each negligent violation as determined in BIPA. Plaintiffs have also sought other compensation as the court deems fair.

Clearview has been sued twice in Illinois resident for BIPA violations and was separately sued for violating Virginia laws. Facebook and YouTube have also requested that Clearview stop scraping information from their platforms.

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