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03.18.20

Vermont sues Clearview AI under state data broker law

BY Jenny L. Holmes

Clearview AI, whose main product is a facial recognition software, is being sued by the state of Vermont. Vermont is alleging violation of multiple state laws, including Vermont’s data broker laws. The data broker laws, passed in 2018 were the first of their kind in the United States and featured here on the Nixon Peabody Privacy Partner Blog when they were passed.

The alleged activity violating Vermont law is the “scraping” of photos of people on publicly accessible websites for the face data. The Vermont Attorney General’s complaint alleges that this data is “fraudulently acquired” as it is obtained without the notice or consent of the people in the photos. The practice is also alleged to have no safeguards in place for photos involving children.

This comes just weeks after Clearview AI was sued in New York by a class of Illinois residents under the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act (BIPA). The BIPA requires informed written consent for the collection of biometric data, such as facial data, and provides for a private cause of action. Facebook settled a claim under BIPA for $550 million this year.

The first item to be decided in Vermont’s suit against Clearview will be Vermont’s motion for preliminary injunction. We will be tracking the case as it progresses.

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Jenny L. Holmes

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