Clearview AI wins appeals GDPR case against UK’s ICO

US facial recognition company Clearview AI wins appeal case in the UK, overturning a £7.5 million fine imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office. The court ruled that Clearview AI’s activities fell outside UK data protection law due to a foreign law enforcement exemption.

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The US facial recognition firm Clearview AI won a case against the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which accused the company of alleged violations of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Initially fined with a £7.5 million penalty in May 2022, Clearview AI’s sanction has been revoked.

The UK court tribunal contends that Clearview AI’s operations are beyond the purview of UK data protection regulations due to an exemption pertaining to foreign law enforcement. This development is disquieting for UK residents, given that Clearview AI has compiled a database of more than 20 billion images sourced globally. Although a 2022 agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union barred Clearview AI from supplying faceprints to corporate clients, the company has expanded the sale of its software to private entities worldwide, raising ongoing concerns regarding privacy and data utilization.

Why does it matter?

Clearview AI is known for its controversial data practices, scraping personal information from various sources to create a vast facial recognition database. The decision raises concerns about UK citizens’ privacy and data security, as it allows the company to continue its activities in the UK without the previously imposed fine. Despite facing legal action and fines in other European countries, the company avoided financial penalties within the EU. This UK ruling sets a legal precedent, confining GDPR enforcement to matters within the UK’s jurisdiction.