Artificial Intelligence: French Privacy Watchdog CNIL Hits Clearview AI With 20M Euro ($19.6M) Fine

Clearview AI, a controversial facial recognition firm, did not respond to CNIL’s previous order to stop its illegal processing of French citizens’ information and delete their data.

Privacy advocates across the globe have cause to celebrate. Clearview AI, a facial recognition firm that scraped an estimated 20 billion photographs from the internet and social media without permission, has been slapped with a 20 million euro fine by French regulator CNIL for not cooperating with its previous order. (ET-CIO)

French activists had complained about the firm to CNIL, the country’s privacy watchdog, which held it had breached privacy laws by unlawfully processing personal data and not respecting individuals’ rights.

In a press release announcing the fine on Clearview, the CNIL said it had given the company formal notice on November 26, 2021, to (a) cease the collection and use of data of persons on French territory in the absence of a legal basis; and (b) facilitate the exercise of individuals’ rights and to comply with requests for erasure.

However, Clearview allegedly ignored this notice and did not respond to the CNIL though it had two months to comply.

The restricted committee of the CNIL therefore decided to impose a maximum financial penalty of 20 million euros, according to article 83 of the GDPR. It also ordered the company to stop collecting and processing data of individuals residing in France without a legal basis and to delete the data of these persons that it has already collected, within a period of two months.

Beyond this period of two months, every day of delay would attract a penalty of 100,000 euros.

Response from Clearview

Clearview boss Hoan Ton-That responded to AFP that the company had no clients or premises in France and was not subject to EU privacy law. Further, the firm collected its data from the open internet and duly complied with privacy standards.

“There is no way to determine if a person has French citizenship purely from a public photo from the internet, and therefore it is impossible to delete data from French residents,” Hon-That maintained.

Related Story: Clearview Nabs Patent For Technology That Creates Bias-Free Algorithms

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