Note — Jan 26, 2020

The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It

Seen in → No.110

Source → nytimes.com/2020/01/18/technology/clearview...

It’s already widely circulated so I didn’t put this piece by Kashmir Hill at the very top but in terms of things you need to worry about as a citizen, the app she investigated is a frightening example of what is becoming possible and what happens when there are few legal guard-rails and techno solutionists / determinists get involved (see the second highlight). I wonder when Amazon will buy this and integrate it with Ring? 🤬

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. […]

The computer code underlying its app, analyzed by The New York Times, includes programming language to pair it with augmented-reality glasses; users would potentially be able to identify every person they saw. The tool could identify activists at a protest or an attractive stranger on the subway, revealing not just their names but where they lived, what they did and whom they knew. […]

“I’ve come to the conclusion that because information constantly increases, there’s never going to be privacy,” Mr. Scalzo said. “Laws have to determine what’s legal, but you can’t ban technology. Sure, that might lead to a dystopian future or something, but you can’t ban it.” […]

[M]y photo returned numerous results, dating back a decade, including photos of myself that I had never seen before. When I used my hand to cover my nose and the bottom of my face, the app still returned seven correct matches for me.