Rethink having photos of yourself or your kids unsecured anywhere.
His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.
Even if Clearview doesn’t make its app publicly available, a copycat company might, now that the taboo is broken. Searching someone by face could become as easy as Googling a name. Strangers would be able to listen in on sensitive conversations, take photos of the participants and know personal secrets. Someone walking down the street would be immediately identifiable — and his or her home address would be only a few clicks away. It would herald the end of public anonymity.
The way it builds its database is by scraping the web, even if it's against the web site's policy. I've known for a while by looking at my own logs that robots.txt
is a joke to many bots. It's the chief reason my kid's site requires a login.
I have a picture of myself in my GitHub profile and on my home page that I should consider taking down.