Facial recognition startup firm Clearview AI announced a data breach after a massive hacking incident. Among the information obtained by the hackers was its entire client list. The company has reportedly issued a patch to address the incident, reports CNN.
Tor Ekeland, attorney of Clearview AI, said that although the firm values the security and protection of its clients, “unfortunately, data breaches are a part of life in the 21st century. Our servers were never accessed. We patched the flaw, and continue to work to strengthen our security.”
The data breach spans a database with over 3 billion photos, including pictures from social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Apart from the entire client list, hackers also stole other essential information. These include the number of searches made and the number of accounts set up by the firm, reveals Forbes.
However, Clearview AI maintains that the photos they have amassed were not included in the data breach.
Clearview AI is currently under fire after claiming that it would only make its software available to law enforcement agencies, shares Tech Crunch. However, reports found that the facial recognition startup company catered to a wide client base. These include the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Other big names who employed the services of Clearview AI include Macy’s, Walmart, the NBA, Coinbase, Equinox, Eventbrite, and many others. These companies fall outside the law enforcement agencies which Clearview AI said it caters to. Buzzfeed News said the startup has been catering to clients in banking, law, retail, and gaming in various parts of the globe.
Following the data breach, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn have sent in legal threats and cease and desist letters to Clearview AI. Other agencies such as the New York Police Department and the attorney general of New Jersey have also distanced themselves from the situation.
Customers affected by the incident were notified, states CNN. A copy of the notification was obtained by the Daily Beast. The notification said hackers “gained unauthorized access” to its customer list.
In light of the breach, Buzzfeed News shares the many sentiments surrounding the issue. Most are concerned about the accessibility of the tool and what delineates between enforcement and law enforcement agencies.
Clearview AI has yet to issue additional statements on the breach.