Coinbase is testing a controversial face recognition technology

Coinbase is testing face recognition technology from Clearview. Thus, it is one of 2000 companies that have entered into this cooperation.

Why the controversy?

Coinbase is testing new solutions and technologies not from today. However, in this case some doubts are growing.

Internal documentation obtained by BuzzFeed reveals that the startup AI, Clearview, from New York has legal problems. It turns out that Clearview is facing threats from technology giants such as Apple and Google, but also accusations for researching its own projects.

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Meanwhile, Clearview has already sold its services to over 2,200 organizations and companies worldwide. Among other things, the software is able to compare images published on the web with actual people who are in the spotlight in a particular situation.
For at least one such match, Coinbase used the Clearview engine.

A Coinbase spokesperson confirmed that the stock exchange is testing new software due to its unique needs in the area of privacy and security. He also assured that users’ data have not been used in any way for these tests. The reason for testing this software was to see if the service can significantly protect employees and offices from physical threats from outside and fraud. However, this does not mean that the platform decides to use the software “permanently”.

Coinbase has already been accused of treating the privacy of its users too lightly. In March 2019, the stock exchange had to clarify that it had not sold its customers’ data. Such an unfortunate phrase was used by one of the directors.

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The demands of clients

Clearview’s CEO, Hoan Ton-That recently claimed that his software is to be used solely for law enforcement purposes. The target markets were to be the US and Canada. At this point in time, Clearview’s largest customers are indeed various US governmental stakeholders. According to information, the Department of Homeland Security itself has registered as many as 280 accounts.

Nevertheless, Clearview’s customer base also includes such financial world brands as Wells Fargo and Bank of America. A BoA spokesman denies that the entity is using Clearview, but documentation points to more than 1900 searches from the entity.

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In February, several giants sent a call to Clearview to cease operations. This was due to the use of images from platforms such as Facebook, Youtube and Google. However, Ton-That invoked the First Amendment claiming that it could collect images published in public spaces.

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