The following is a media release from Sen. Ed Markey, who was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. He is a Democrat.
BOSTON – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today, June 8, called on Clearview AI to provide greater transparency and firm commitments to not violate Americans’ civil liberties.
Senator Markey’s letter comes in response to reports that law enforcement agencies in cities where protesters are speaking out against systemic racism and the killing of George Floyd have access to Clearview AI’s facial recognition technology.
“As demonstrators across the country exercise their First Amendment rights by protesting racial injustice, it is important that law enforcement does not use technological tools to stifle free speech or endanger members of the public,” writes Senator Markey in his letter to Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That. “I urge you to take every step necessary to ensure that your technology will not force Americans to choose between sacrificing their rights to privacy or remaining silent in the face of injustice.”
In Clearview AI’s previous responses to Senator Markey’s letters, the company failed to commit to subjecting its technology to an independent assessment of accuracy and bias under standards recognized by facial recognition experts. Warning that inaccurate results could lead to the arrest or investigation of innocent protesters — especially women and people of color — Senator Markey once again pressed Clearview AI to conduct such an independent assessment.
Senator Markey also called for greater oversight by Clearview AI to ensure that law enforcement agencies are not misusing the technology; greater insight into the vetting process Clearview AI uses for prospective law enforcement clients; and improved mechanisms for members of the public to have their images removed from the Clearview AI database.
In his letter, Senator Markey requests responses to questions that include:
- Has Clearview AI marketed to or formed new contracts with any law enforcement agencies since the protests began on May 25, 2020?
- Has search traffic on Clearview AI increased, week-over-week, in the weeks since the protests began?
- Will Clearview AI commit to explicitly prohibiting law enforcement agencies or others from using its technology to monitor or identify peaceful protestors?
- Will Clearview AI commit to submitting to an independent assessment of accuracy and bias by facial recognition experts, including testing for error rates for true negatives, false matches, and people of color, and publish the results of this assessment publicly?
- Will Clearview AI commit to providing residents of all 50 states with a mechanism to opt-out of the Clearview AI database entirely?
- Will Clearview AI commit to ensuring that any images, personal information, or other data that it collects as part of any contact tracing program will not be accessible to law enforcement agencies who contract with Clearview AI?