Lawsuit filed against facial recognition company CPD works with

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CHICAGO — A lawsuit has been filed against a facial recognition company that Chicago police have recently begun working with.

The lawsuit claims the company, Clearview AI, is acting out of pure greed and is violating Illinois law.

Clearview AI collects social media pictures and videos for a growing database sold to law enforcement agencies across the country.

“The reports are over three billion pictures, 50 million more getting added every day,” said attorney Mike Kanovitz. “That’s a criminal dossier on a scale that no one in this country has ever seen before.”

He hopes to stop the mass collection of data from Facebook, YouTube and various other websites. Kanovitz claims it’s a violation of civil rights and of Illinois law, which has privacy protections in place on biometric data.

“What we take issue with is the existence of the database and their access to it,” Kanovitz said. “The database should be expunged like any record of someone who is innocent and in that respect, they shouldn’t be using it.”

Earlier this year, Chicago police entered into a two-year contract to use Clearview AI’s technology to compare a suspect’s photograph against public source information.

“We do not use either technique without a predicate crime, we do not crowd search, we do not violate people’s first amendment rights,” CPD interim superintendant Charlie Beck said. “We strictly use these processes to solves crimes that have been reported where we have evidence that gives us a person’s face, but not identity.”

Kanovitz disagrees to an extent.

“Translating that, I think what they’re saying is ‘we are not at this particular time,’” Kanovitz said. “‘We are not using our powerful computers to watch you as you walk down the street and identify you that way,’”

A coalition of 75 organizations, including the ACLU of Illinois, are calling for a ban on facial recognition technology in Chicago. The claim it’s racist and can produce false positives.

WGN reached out to Clearview AI for comment, but have not heard back yet. On its website, it says it only uses public information. It’s a search, not surveillance and is in full compliance with the law.


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