Clearview is one step closer to getting a US patent for its facial recognition software
Clearview AI, the US-based facial recognition platform, has been sent a "notice of allowance" for a patent. The notice, given by the US Patent and Trademark Office, will grant Clearview its patent to cover "methods of providing information about a person based on facial recognition". These methods include its "automated web crawler", a tool that scans the internet for images against which it can make facial matches.
Clearview claims this is the first patent covering a "search engine for faces". The final step Clearview needs to take to gain the patent is to pay the administration fees, at which point it will be officially approved.
The software is intended to be used by law enforcement, matching public images from websites, such as social media platforms, to pictures and videos stored in government databases. Several agencies are already using Clearview's technology, including the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.
The Clearview software recently scored highly in a review by the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology. However, Clearview's technology, alongside other facial recognition platforms, has raised concerns from many civil rights groups, who argue that this is unethical.
These organisations have also flagged that facial recognition software often makes mistakes, which can lead to false arrests; typically, women and minorities are more commonly misidentified than white males. Matt Mahmoudi of Amnesty International, who is trying to block the technology, has said of the Clearview patent that "they are patenting the very part of it that's in violation of international human rights law."