Google Tells Clearview To Stop Scraping Photos For Facial Recognition Database

Google and its video service YouTube have joined Twitter in demanding that facial recognition startup Clearview AI stop scraping photos from their services.

“YouTube’s terms of service explicitly forbid collecting data that can be used to identify a person,” a spokesperson told CBS, which first reported the company's move.

The tech platforms have also demanded that Clearview delete any photos it previously gathered.

Clearview came to public attention two weeks ago, when The New York Times reported that the company scraped billions of photos from Twitter, Facebook and other companies, used technology to create a faceprint database, then sold that database to police departments across the country.

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News of the company's business sparked concern by privacy advocates and some public officials, including New Jersey's Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, who told state prosecutors to temporarily stop using the technology company's program.

Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That said Wednesday morning that the company has a First Amendment right to access any photos it scraped.

“The way we have built our system is to only take publicly available information and index it,” he said in an interview with CBS.

It's not clear whether Google, Twitter and other tech companies can enforce terms of service that prohibit the scraping of online data.

Last year, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that LinkedIn couldn't rely on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act -- a federal anti-hacking law -- to prevent scraping by analytics company hiQ. LinkedIn has said it plans to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court.

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