The UK’s information watchdog has told surveillance tech firm Clearview AI to delete its database of facial images scraped from British people’s social media profiles.
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) also fined the tech firm £7.55m, after ruling the firm broke the law by taking people’s photos without their permission.
The intervention comes after Clearview AI agreed to limit commercial customers from using its database of 20bn facial images, in a bid to settle a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The ICO told Clearview AI to stop taking UK resident’s personal data off the internet and to wipe information about British people off its databases, following a joint investigation with Australia’s information watchdog.
The ruling comes as the New York tech firm has faced scrutiny over its business of selling access to its database of billions of facial images.
Clearview AI allows its customers to upload photos of individuals to check them for matches in its database.
The regulator also said Clearview disincentivized people from removing personal data from their systems by asking them for additional personal information when such requests were sent.
ICO chief John Edwards said: “Clearview AI Inc has collected multiple images of people all over the world, including in the UK, from a variety of websites and social media platforms, creating a database with more than 20 billion images.”
“The company not only enables identification of those people, but effectively monitors their behaviour and offers it as a commercial service.”