28-02-2020 4:22 am Published by Nederland.ai Leave your thoughts

A face recognition company that contracts with powerful law enforcement agencies has just reported that an intruder has stolen its entire customer list, according to a report that the company has sent to its customers.

In the message, which the Daily Beast revised, Clearview AI startup revealed to its customers that an intruder gained “unauthorized access” to his list of customers, to the number of user accounts that customers had set up, and to the number of investigations The message said the company's servers were not being breached and that there was “no compromise of Clearview's systems or network”. The company also said it identified the vulnerability and that the intruder did not get a search history from any law enforcement agency.

Tor Ekeland, an attorney for the company, said Clearview gives priority to safety.

“” Security is Clearview's top priority, “he said in a statement provided to the Daily Beast. “Unfortunately, data breaches are part of life in the 21st century. Our servers were never accessible. We have corrected the error and are continuing to strengthen our security.”

The company attracted national attention when The New York Times ran a front page story about its work with law enforcement agencies. The Times reported that the company had scraped 3 billion images from the internet, including Facebook, YouTube and Venmo. According to the newspaper, that process was contrary to Facebook's terms of service. It also created a tool that caught the attention of hundreds of law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, according to that report. In a follow-up story, The Times reported that law enforcement officials used the means to identify children who are victims of sexual abuse. An anonymous Canadian law enforcement officer told the document that Clearview was “the biggest breakthrough in the last decade” for investigations into those crimes.

The report did not describe the infringement as a hack. David Forscey, the director of the no-profit Aspen Cybersecurity Group, said the infringement is a problem.

“If you are a law enforcement agency, it's important because you depend on Clearview as a service provider to have good security, and it looks like they don't,” Forscey said.

Face recognition technology – which matches photos of unidentified victims or suspects against huge databases of photos – has long drawn intense criticism from privacy advocates. They argue it could essentially mean the end of personal privacy, especially given the proliferation of security cameras in public places. Some law enforcement officers meanwhile see it as an instrument with enormous potential value.

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