IT Pro is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Clearview AI faces £17 million fine for violating UK data protection laws

The ICO has voiced "significant concerns" that the company has processed UK personal data without people's knowledge

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has issued a provisional fine of £17 million to controversial Australian firm Clearview AI over its handling of UK personal data. 

Related Resource

Prevent fraud and phishing attacks with DMARC

How to use domain-based message authentication, reporting, and conformance for email security

Prevent fraud and phishing attacks with DMARC - whitepaper from MimecastFree download

Despite no longer operating in the country, the firm has also been told to stop processing UK personal data and delete any it has. 

The company, which provides mass databases and facial recognition technology for law enforcement agencies, has already been found to have broken Australian privacy law and been hit with cease and desist notices from the likes of Facebook and Twitter for scraping public images for its systems. 

After a joint investigation with the Australian ICO, the UK's data regulator found that Clearview had violated "several" data protection laws in the UK. It also found the company may be "continuing to process significant volumes of UK people's information" without their knowledge. 

"I have significant concerns that personal data was processed in a way that nobody in the UK will have expected," said Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said.

"It is therefore only right that the ICO alerts people to the scale of this potential breach and the proposed action we're taking. UK data protection legislation does not stop the effective use of technology to fight crime, but to enjoy public trust and confidence in their products technology providers must ensure people's legal protections are respected and complied with."

In response, Clearview called the regulator's claims "factually and legally incorrect". The company's founder and CEO, Hoan Ton-That, also said that the ICO had "misinterpreted" his technology and intentions. 

"My company and I have acted in the best interests of the UK and their people by assisting law enforcement in solving heinous crimes against children, seniors, and other victims of unscrupulous acts. We collect only public data from the open internet and comply with all standards of privacy and law," Ton-That said, according to the BBC

Clearview can challenge the proposed fine before a final decision is made midway through 2022. 

Featured Resources

Join the 90% of enterprises accelerating to the cloud

Business transformation through digital modernisation

Free Download

Delivering on demand: Momentum builds toward flexible IT

A modern digital workplace strategy

Free download

Modernise the workforce experience

Actionable insights and an optimised experience for both IT and end users

Free Download

The digital workplace roadmap

A leader's guide to strategy and success

Free Download

Most Popular

Actively exploited server backdoor remains undetected in most organisations' networks
cyber attacks

Actively exploited server backdoor remains undetected in most organisations' networks

1 Jul 2022
Former Uber security chief to face fraud charges over hack coverup
data breaches

Former Uber security chief to face fraud charges over hack coverup

29 Jun 2022
Why India wants to become a chipmaking powerhouse
components

Why India wants to become a chipmaking powerhouse

28 Jun 2022