Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Getting a Copy of Your Clearview AI Profile

Thomas Smith, OneZero:

What does a Clearview profile contain? Up until recently, it would have been almost impossible to find out. Companies like Clearview were not required to share their data, and could easily build massive databases of personal information in secret.

Thanks to two landmark pieces of legislation, though, that is changing. In 2018, the European Union began enforcing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). And on January 1, 2020, an equivalent piece of legislation, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), went into effect in my home state.

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Within a week of the Times’ expose, I submitted my own CCPA request to Clearview. For about a month, I got no reply. The company then asked me to fill out a web form, which I did. Another several weeks passed. I finally received a message from Clearview asking for a copy of my driver’s license and a clear photo of myself.

I provided these. In minutes, they sent back my profile.

Companies like Clearview AI are the next level in the kind of “data enrichment” firms of the type that suffered a massive data breach last year. After that breach, I submitted requests to every big data enrichment company I could find to see what they had on me. Many had nothing, but a few had built extremely accurate profiles of me based solely on whatever they could scrape. I had never heard of these companies; I had to ask them, individually, to delete anything they had on me.