Clearview AI said its facial recognition tool was only for law enforcement, but Buzzfeed News reports they gave accounts to former Trump staffer Jason Miller, as well as various Republican political operatives and a figure known to be a Holocaust denier.
CEO Hoan Ton-That denies Buzzfeed's reporting, which shows access was provided to political connections, potential investors, and entities designated as "Friend."
A BuzzFeed News review of the publicly available code for Clearview's web app found that the company had created a list of "company type" designations — including "Government," "Bank," and "Investor" — for entities that had access to its tool. Among those 12 labels was one for "Friend." A security researcher on Twitter also discovered the same label in an independent review of the code.
On a list of more than 2,200 entities seen by BuzzFeed News, Clearview apparently designated the "company type" of a handful of organizations as "Friend." Among them was SHW Partners LLC, a company founded by Jason Miller, a former Trump campaign senior communications official and one-time nominee for White House communications director.
Miller, who cohosts a podcast with Trump's former chief strategist Steve Bannon, declined to comment on Clearview or why his firm was listed as having access to the company's facial recognition software. Clearview's records show that an account tied to SHW had run nearly 20 searches, some as recently as October.
BuzzFeed News previously revealed that Clearview's data listed the offices of four Republican members of Congress — including Rep. John Ratcliffe, a current nominee for the director of national intelligence — as having been given accounts, along with someone associated with the "White House Tech Office." That White House–affiliated account was credentialed in September 2019 and performed six searches.
"If a current or former staff member attempted to access more information about this product, it was not an official inquiry and was not sanctioned by the White House," a senior White House official told BuzzFeed News last month.
Beyond SHW, other entities on Clearview's list with the "Friend" designation included the Samarian Group, a New York–based private equity firm; Droese Raney, a Dallas commercial architecture company; and Tor Ekeland, Clearview's outside law firm, whose name was misspelled "Tor Ecklund" on the list. All three organizations did not respond to requests for comment.
Clearview also provided access to conservative think tanks the Manhattan Institute and the American Enterprise Institute, and many other investors and individuals are named in the story, including Peter Thiel.
[via Ryan Mac]