After settling a lawsuit from the ACLU on Monday, Clearview AI is no longer allowed to sell its facial recognition database to private entities.

About the settlement

In 2020, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Clearview AI, claiming it had violated an Illinois law that prevents individuals’ biometric data from being used without their permission. The court recently determined that the company had violated the law and is now finalizing the terms of the settlement.

Currently, the terms state that going forward, Clearview can only provide government agencies access to its database, and the company must allow Illinois residents to remove any images of themselves from its database if they so choose. Clearview is also required to promote this opt-out option online, and may no longer offer free software trials to police officers without their department’s approval.

The ACLU’s Deputy Director of Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, Nathan Freed Wessler, says that the settlement is a step in the right direction for protecting individual privacy rights.   

“By requiring Clearview to comply with Illinois’ pathbreaking biometric privacy law not just in the state, but across the country, this settlement demonstrates that strong privacy laws can provide real protections against abuse… Clearview can no longer treat people’s unique biometric identifiers as an unrestricted source of profit. Other companies would be wise to take note, and other states should follow Illinois’ lead in enacting strong biometric privacy laws.”

Clearview is allegedly unconcerned about the impact the new restrictions will have on its business, and has shared that while it will comply with the law and no longer sell private companies access to its facial recognition database, it will still be able to make a profit by selling its algorithm.