Current litigation against Clearview AI includes numerous class-action lawsuits and an Australian-British joint investigation into the company’s practises. This hasn’t deterred potential investors.
The New York-based start-up, which scraped billions of photos from the public internet to develop a facial-recognition tool used by law enforcement, closed a $30 million Series B round earlier this month, according to the company.
Despite the fact that the lawsuits had had no effect on them, the investors did not want to be identified. “These investors include institutional investors as well as private family offices,” according to Hoan Ton-That, the company’s chief executive.
Prior investors have included tech billionaire Peter Thiel, Kirenaga Partners, a New York-based venture capital firm, and Hal Lambert, the Texas-based creator of MAGA ETF, an investment fund that bills itself as being comprised of companies that “align with Republican beliefs,” according to its website.
According to Buzzfeed, the round includes $8.6 million that was previously disclosed in an SEC filing and reported by the media outlet. The company, which was founded in 2017, has now raised more than $38 million at a valuation of $130 million.
It is not the only facial-recognition startup to attract the attention of venture capitalists. AnyVision, an Israeli competitor, raised $235 million in a financing round led by Softbank earlier this month.
In order to use its product, Clearview AI charges law enforcement organisations a subscription fee. The company claims to have a database of three billion photos of people gathered from sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Venmo. When you search for someone’s face on the internet, you will find other photos of that person with links to where they can be found on the internet, making it possible to identify them. According to a leaked list of Clearview customers obtained by Buzzfeed, the company’s product has been used by more than 1,800 law enforcement agencies. According to a recent report by the U.S. According to the Government Accountability Office, Clearview AI has been used by ten federal agencies, including the Secret Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Canadian authorities have declared the company’s product to be illegal; the United Kingdom and Australia are jointly investigating the company for its unauthorised use of citizens’ personal information. The company has been the subject of a number of lawsuits in the United States, including one filed in Illinois, which accused the company of violating the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, which stipulates that companies must obtain people’s permission before using their fingerprints or including them in facial-recognition databases.
“We’ve had some good news in the legal battles,” Mr. Ton-That said, referring to a recent decision by a federal judge to reject a request that the company be barred from doing business pending the outcome of the case in Illinois. “We’ve had some good news in the legal battles,” he added. Uber, Airbnb, and PayPal were all businesses with a significant legal component to their operations. Once the company has grown significantly in size, people tend to forget about it. The fact that it is just a normal part of doing business is obvious to investors.”