Bulletins

Clearview AI ordered to delete all data on UK residents

The company can also no longer collect additional data from them.

A woman holding a smartphone with an illustration of mapping dots and lines over her face

The company must delete all data belonging to U.K. residents.

Photo: Westend61/Getty Images

The U.K.'s Information Commissioner’s Office, the country's privacy watchdog, has ordered facial recognition company Clearview AI to delete all data belonging to the country's residents.


Clearview has also been ordered to stop collecting additional data from U.K. residents and will pay a fine of roughly $9.4 million for violating the country's data protection laws, the office said Monday. This is the fourth time the company has been ordered to wipe data of an entire country's residents, following orders from Australia, France and Italy in recent months.

The enforcement notice and fine follow an investigation of Clearview AI with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, which wrapped up in November and discovered that the company breached protection laws. The investigation found the company failed to use the data it collected in a "fair and transparent" way, collected it without a lawful reason and didn't meet the data protection standards required for biometric data.

"People expect that their personal information will be respected, regardless of where in the world their data is being used," John Edwards, U.K. Information Commissioner, said in a statement. "That is why global companies need international enforcement."

Clearview claims to have a database of more than 20 billion photos collected from across the internet. In the U.K., the company's database had been used by law enforcement, such as the Metropolitan Police, the Ministry of Defence and the National Crime Agency, a report published by The Register last year revealed.

The controversial company also recently got in trouble in the U.S., reaching a settlement with the ACLU that restricted it from selling its database of faceprints to most private entities. In a lawsuit, the nonprofit alleged that the company of violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, which prohibits companies from taking and using Illinois residents' "biometric identifiers," such as faceprints and fingerprints, without their permission.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the amount Clearview AI was fined. This story was updated on May 23, 2022.

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