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  • Writer's pictureChrissy Welsh

Is your face still yours?

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

Facial recognition is not a new to AI technology. However recent merging of facial recognition with web scraping is bringing about new questions of ownership. Questions like: Do we still own our own face?

Scandals involving misuse of personal data are becoming increasing the norm. Cambridge Analytica improperly obtained data from Facebook to build voter profiles, and subsequently targeted many people for campaigns. Cambridge analytica additionally sold phycological profiles of 10’s of millions of facebook users to foreign governments creating the largest leak in Facebooks history… till now.

Enter Where many companies have restricted or even stopped their investments in AI & Facial recognition due to the high likelihood of its misuse, Clearview has driven forward. It has some of the most sophisticated facial recognition software at present. This in and of itself is not the biggest issue. The real danger comes now when combining it with the biggest known facial database.

How did Clearview manage to get the biggest facial database?

Clearview started scraping social media (Using web crawlers to collecting data or images). And I mean all social media for content. Clearview started logging tagging and collecting all our pictures. That instagram at the beach? – collected. Thanksgiving on Facebook? – collected. That local newspaper article showing you receiving 2nd place in a poetry competition aged 10? – collected. Despite many cease and desist letters from Facebook and others they have not been made to stop. This is how they got the worlds largest facial database.

This facial service is now available for hire and use, and is currently being used by the Police Department, FBI, Walmart and Macys. Yes, I did mean to type Walmart and Macys because you see whoever pays can use it.

This is now the problem. The legislation for proper use of these technologies does not exist. It is wide open for abuse. If you have the money, you can buy this service or this database. It is also currently being abused. Pictures from the Black Lives Matter protest have been used to track down protestors for arresting. It’s being used to target individuals. In the wrong hands, in the hands of those that mean us harm its a map of who we are, where we go and who we associate with.

Particularly for those of us who are vulnerable, it is horrifying. If you want to track down a person, any person you can. You want know the whereabouts of a witness in protection – you can. Where your estranged ex is now living – No problem. For abused women and children this is a massive problem, as hiding has previously been a most used tactic to escape offenders.

Wealthy people have a long history of taken a common shared asset and exploiting it for personal gain. Such as the claiming and selling of land, fishing areas, plant varieties and now your face.

Your pictures, your face is now no longer just yours. It’s already part of a Software for hire program available today. It is with almost certainty that your face is already included. Where your face is contributing to their profits. I hope my own pictures can be legally concluded as mine and I can withdraw my content to having them used for this purpose. Till then, I’m leaving this present for them here.


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