Clearview AI, the controversial U.S.-based technology firm, will no longer make its facial recognition software available in Canada, according to federal and provincial privacy authorities.
A statement issued by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada on Monday said Clearview had advised officials of the decision in response to an ongoing investigation by the privacy authorities of Canada, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec.
In its announcement Monday, the federal privacy commissioner’s office said the joint investigation into Clearview would remain open and that “authorities still plan to issue findings in this matter given the importance of the issue for the privacy rights of Canadians.”
Clearview AI first came under scrutiny earlier this year when it boasted about collecting billions of photos from the internet to feed its facial recognition app.
The firm said the tool is meant to allow police to “identify perpetrators and victims of crimes,” but privacy advocates worried the technology could fall into the wrong hands or lead to a dystopian future in which anyone can be identified within seconds whether they consent to facial recognition or not.
Monday’s statement by federal and provincial privacy authorities said the RCMP was “Clearview’s last remaining client in Canada” and that the contract would be suspended indefinitely. A separate investigation into the Mounties’ use of the software would also continue, the federal privacy watchdog said.
Another “ongoing issue under investigation by the authorities is the deletion of the personal information of Canadians that Clearview has already collected, as well as the cessation of Clearview’s collection of Canadians’ personal information,” the statement said.
CBC News reported in June that while Clearview was offering residents of certain jurisdictions the opportunity to request their data be deleted from the firm’s database, it did not appear Canadians were eligible.
Clearview AI and the RCMP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
On Monday afternoon, the company’s website still quoted an unnamed “detective constable in the sex crimes unit” of a Canadian law enforcement agency as saying, “Clearview AI is hands-down the best thing that has happened to victim identification in the last 10 years.”
WATCH | Canadians’ faces in Clearview AI database: