Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Google and YouTube Join Twitter in Telling Clearview AI to Stop Scraping User Data

CBS News, in an un-bylined story:

Google and YouTube have sent a cease-and-desist letter to Clearview AI, a facial recognition app that scrapes images from websites and social media platforms, CBS News has learned. The tech companies join Twitter, which sent a similar letter in January, in trying to block the app from taking pictures from their platforms.


Ton-That argued that Clearview AI has a First Amendment right to access public data. “The way we have built our system is to only take publicly available information and index it that way,” he said.

I’m no lawyer, but that’s certainly a creative interpretation of the First Amendment.

For what it’s worth, a 2018 ruling indicates that website scraping does have some First Amendment protections, but that was decided in the context of research. But it’s unclear whether that would extend to copying third-party materials for first-party profit.

Facebook and Venmo also said scraping was against their policies, but have so far not sent cease-and-desist letters.

Peter Thiel sits on Facebook’s board and is also an investor in Clearview. You’d think he could pass along the message.