Lawsuit Seeks Injunction Requiring Clearview To Destroy Data

An Illinois resident who sued Clearview AI in January is now asking a federal judge to issue a pre-trial order requiring the facial-recognition company to destroy data about state residents.

“It has been revealed that defendants’ conduct is much more egregious -- and their dangerous technology far more widespread -- than was known when plaintiff commenced this action,” lawyers representing David Mutnick allege in papers filed Wednesday with U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman in the Northern District of Illinois.

Mutnick is seeking a preliminary injunction that would require Clearview to stop collecting biometric data about Illinois residents and destroy the data already collected.

The legal battle dates to January, when he alleged in a class-action complaint that Clearview violates the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires companies to obtain consumers' written consent before compiling scans of their facial geometry. He filed suit several days after The New York Times reported that Clearview 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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Those revelations have sparked at least five other federal class-action complaints against the company, which are currently proceeding separately, but may be consolidated in the future.

Since news about the facial-recognition company came to light, it has faced criticism on Capitol Hill. It also has been hit with cease-and-desist demands by Twitter, Google, Facebook and other companies that want Clearview to stop scraping their sites for photos.

In addition, it has emerged since January that Clearview's client list may extend beyond law enforcement authorities.

While the company has not publicly disclosed names of its customers, BuzzFeed reported that Clearview's clients include US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, Macy’s, and a conservative think tank.

Mutnick argues in the new request for a preliminary injunction that the post-January reports about Clearview warrant immediate action by the court.

“Plaintiff and class members should not have to accept defendants’ lax attitude with respect to keeping their highly sensitive personal information secure,” he argues. “Given defendants’ lack of concern for data security and their new-found notoriety, it is extremely likely that defendants will experience additional and more severe data breaches, further injuring those whose data they wrongfully acquired in the first place.”

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