Washington (January 23, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today sent a letter querying Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That about the company’s facial recognition app, which has reportedly been sold to more than 600 law enforcement agencies. Recent reporting in the New York Times revealed that Clearview’s app allows users to capture and upload photos of strangers, analyze the photographed individuals’ biometric information, and provide users with existing images and personal information of the photographed individuals online. In his letter, Senator Markey expresses concern that adoption of this technology could completely eliminate public anonymity in the United States.  


“Any technology with the ability to collect and analyze individuals’ biometric information has alarming potential to impinge on the public’s civil liberties and privacy,” writes Senator Markey in his letter to Mr. Ton-That. “Clearview’s product appears to pose particularly chilling privacy risks, and I am deeply concerned that it is capable of fundamentally dismantling Americans’ expectation that they can move, assemble, or simply appear in public without being identified.”


A copy of the letter to Clearview can be found HERE.


In his letter, Senator Markey asks Clearview to respond to questions that include:

  • Please provide a list of all law enforcement or intelligence agencies that (A) Clearview has marketed to or otherwise communicated with regarding acquisition of your technology, and (B) currently use the Clearview service.
  • Does Clearview market to or sell your service to any entities besides law enforcement? If yes, please list.  If not, will Clearview commit to not expanding its customer base to private companies or individuals?
  • Do Clearview employees have access to the images that your customers upload onto Clearview’s servers? If yes, what safeguards does Clearview have in place to ensure that employees do not breech the privacy of photographed individuals?
  • Will Clearview commit to providing individuals with an effective process to have images of their faces deleted from Clearview’s database upon request?
  • Has Clearview detected any security breaches or incidents since its inception? If so, please detail these episodes, relay what government entities were informed of the episodes, and describe the steps Clearview took to fix all relevant security vulnerabilities.
  • Is Clearview’s technology currently integrated with any police body-camera technology or existing public-facing camera networks? Please identify any government customers using Clearview’s technology for continual, real-time facial recognition of the public.
  • Can Clearview’s technology recognize whether the biometric information uploaded to its systems includes children under the age of 13? If yes, does Clearview have any protections in place to ensure the privacy of such children, and how does Clearview ensure that it complies with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act?


Senator Markey has previously questioned Amazon about its facial recognition product, Rekognition, and Amazon’s marketing of this product to law enforcement agencies.