The crypto industry is growing despite the volatility experienced in the markets. In that context, US-based Coinbase crypto exchange that reports more than 20 million views every month and at least 30 million total accounts have now tested the Clearview AI facial recognition technology. A BuzzFeed News report confirmed the news about these tests. Nevertheless, Coinbase denied that the test involved the use of customer data.
The allegedly controversial software has been a subject of extensive scrutiny since a New York Times article exposed the company’s database of more than three billion images. These images were scraped from “millions” of websites and social media platforms. It later emerged that the company got these images without the consent of the publishers or users.
Some of the victimized companies, including Google, Facebook, and Twitter, have threatened Clearview AI with legal action for damages and inconveniences caused. Although Hoan Ton-That, Clearview’s CEO, had recently alleged that the software was only deployed with the law enforcement agencies, an anonymous source revealed the whole customer list that was compromised to BuzzFeed.
Reportedly, the AI Company’s business was focused primarily on the USA and Canada space, but it might have spread further. The leaked list contained thousands of entities originating from 26 countries.
They are spying
Major names like Macy’s, Walmart, and Best Buy are also included in this list. Other affected entities include government agencies, universities, multiple police departments, banks, and high schools.
Nonetheless, the inclusion of Coinbase will come as a surprise to most individuals in the crypto industry. This industry is primarily characterized by a powerful drive for privacy. According to a spokesperson for the crypto exchange who spoke to BuzzFeed, the firm was testing Clearview due to its unique needs surrounding security and compliance. The spokesperson went on:
“Our security and compliance teams tested Clearview AI to see if ; the service could meaningfully bolster our efforts to protect employees and offices against physical threats and investigate fraud. At this time, we have not made any commitments to use Clearview AI.”
While a majority of the listed companies in the consumer database seemed to be trialing the product using individual accounts, Coinbase’s response seems to indicate that the testing was sanctioned. Some tests were done without the knowledge of senior management.
Facial recognition now popular
The potential for misuse of the facial recognition technologies that are currently regulated in the United States has made some of the states to consider creating legislation to outlaw the technology altogether.
One captain attached to the Senoia Police Department told BuzzFeed:
“It’s just like you giving a weapon to a police officer. You would hope that he uses it properly and doesn’t misuse it and remembers his training. It’s a good tool if used appropriately and with caution.”
Efforts so far to reach out to Coinbase requesting details about whether this technology has been used to screen people visiting Coinbase’s offices or potential employees have proved futile.