Apple Blocks Clearview AI From App Store

Apple. Clearview AI, Facial recognition, app, iPhone, violation, rules, law enforcement, database, photos, news

The facial recognition app Clearview AI was banned from Apple’s developer program after allegedly violating the iPhone maker’s rules, Buzzfeed News reported on Friday (Feb. 28).

Analysis by BuzzFeed News of Clearview AI’s app for Apple’s mobile operating system discovered that Clearview broke rules about the distribution of its apps. The startup reportedly took advantage of its developer account so it could distribute its software to law enforcement customers and others. 

Apple disabled the app after BuzzFeed News determined that the New York-based Clearview AI had been in violation of the iPhone maker’s rules. 

Clearview AI said it has “accumulated a database of billions of photos” and has collaborated with worldwide organizations. 

The Apple ban is a new problem for the facial recognition startup. The company is also looking at additional lawsuits and legal challenges from privacy advocates, CNET reported.

Clearview provides its service to law enforcement and security professionals. The company uses facial recognition to reveal a person’s identification where and when the app is in use. The app could essentially take away a person’s assumed anonymity when anyone is out in public, the article said.

“We are in contact with Apple and working on complying with their terms and conditions,” Clearview AI founder and CEO Hoan Ton-That said in a statement to CNN. “The app cannot be used without a valid Clearview account. A user can download the app, but not perform any searches without proper authorization and credentials.”

Reports said Apple confirmed that Clearview AI “violated” the terms of its enterprise developer program. 

The app gave users the ability to take or upload a photo with a smartphone and search its database of 3 billion photos.

Although Clearview said it only caters to law enforcement, the report said Macy’s, Walmart and Wells Fargo are among the firm’s many private-sector users.

Clearview was hacked last month and its entire client list was exposed. The company said it fixed the problem that caused the data breach, and that safety was its top priority.