Is there any way out of Clearview’s facial recognition database?

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An illustration of a metallic face with illustrative facial tracking points over it.
Illustration by Maria Chimishkyan

In March 2020, two months after The New York Times exposed that Clearview AI had scraped billions of images from the internet to create a facial recognition database, Thomas Smith received a dossier encompassing most of his digital life.

Using the recently enacted California Consumer Privacy Act, Smith asked Clearview for what they had on him. The company sent him pictures that spanned moments throughout his adult life: a photo from when he got married and started a blog with his wife, another when he was profiled by his college’s alumni magazine, even a profile photo from a Python coding meetup he had attended a few years ago.

“That’s what really threw me: All the things that I had posted to Facebook and figured, ‘Nobody’s going to...

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