The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s data protection authority, is currently preparing to appeal a tribunal decision that recently overturned a significant fine against the facial recognition company, Clearview AI. Last year, Clearview AI was fined approximately €8.9 million by the ICO for collecting images and data of individuals without their consent. The data was harvested from the internet, including social media, to provide facial recognition services primarily for law enforcement agencies outside the UK.
However, the tribunal sided with Clearview AI last month, stating that the ICO didn’t have the jurisdiction to impose the fine since the service was used by non-UK law enforcement agencies. The ICO disagrees, emphasizing that Clearview AI’s operations should not be exempt from UK law, especially since the data collection involved UK residents. The ICO is concerned about the scale and intrusiveness of Clearview’s methods and is committed to defending UK citizens’ privacy rights.
Information Commissioner John Edwards expressed the importance of challenging this judgment. He highlighted the ICO’s role in scrutinizing decisions but also its duty to protect the privacy of UK individuals against companies that exploit personal data. The ICO supports AI innovation but stands firm on taking action when privacy rights are at risk.
The ICO is now waiting for the tribunal to decide on their request to appeal. Meanwhile, Clearview AI’s general counsel, Jack Mulcaire, maintains that the company is rightfully not under the ICO’s jurisdiction and opposes the appeal, calling it meritless. The outcome of this appeal could have significant implications for privacy rights and the application of GDPR laws to international companies operating in the UK.