Clearview AI, the controversial facial recognition company partnering with police, says its entire customer list was stolen in a breach

Clearview AI, the controversial facial recognition company partnering with police, says its entire customer list was stolen in a breach
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Samantha Lee/Business Insider

  • Clearview AI, the controversial company working with police departments across the US, says its client list was stolen by someone with "unauthorized access."
  • The company markets a facial recognition tool that lets police upload a photo of a face and search it against a database of billions of images scraped from social media to identify suspects.
  • A Clearview AI spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider that the breach, first reported by The Daily Beast, included the company's entire list of customers.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The full client list of Clearview AI, the embattled facial recognition company, was stolen by someone with "unauthorized access," The Daily Beast first reported.

The company has drawn backlash from privacy advocates and major social media platforms for its facial recognition tool, which lets police use a photo of a person to search a database of images from social media, identifying individuals based on their faces. The breach is notable because Clearview markets its services to law enforcement agencies and has previously avoided disclosing who its clients are.

Clearview AI attorney Tor Ekeland confirmed The Daily Beast's report in a statement to Business Insider. Ekeland said the breach didn't result from a hack into Clearview's servers, but rather a "flaw" that gave someon unauthorized access to the company's client list.

"Security is Clearview's top priority. Unfortunately, data breaches are part of life in the 21st century," Ekeland said, adding that the company will "continue to work to strengthen our security."


The New York Times reported in January that the company's customers include hundreds of law enforcement agencies across the US and Canada, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

The company is also looking to expand its client base - a spokesperson told Business Insider in February that Clearview's service has "received inquiries from law enforcement agencies all over the world."

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other companies have threatened legal action against Clearview AI, instructing the company to stop scraping public images from their platforms to build its faces database. Clearview founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That responded by arguing that gathering publicly-accessible photos is protected by the US Constitution's First Amendment.

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