While the app isn’t public, that doesn’t rule out the potential for other agencies to be using it. As it turns out, the Australia Federal Police (AFP) apparently isn’t one of them.
Clearview AI was created by Australian Hoan Ton-That and it’s the first app that has taken off for the developer. It utilises a single photo to identify a person by comparing it to its database of 3 billion images. These photos are of regular people and have been scraped from social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Venmo.
Imperfect images where faces are partially obscured or hidden can still be used to positively ID a person, and as the New York Times reported, the hit rate seems to be quite high.
The app has already been used in the U.S. to identify and arrest people for crimes ranging from theft to murder. Police departments have reportedly praised the app for its accuracy and exponentially high database of images. One of the other positives cited was its ability to identity potential criminals who aren’t in the police database due to a lack of criminal record.
Gizmodo Australia reached out to the AFP to ascertain whether it had been utilising the app. “The AFP does not use Clearview AI,” said a AFP spokesperson in an email to Gizmodo.
It is currently unclear whether the AFP would consider using the App or if it has been in talks with Clearview AI.
When asked whether the AFP has been in talks with Clearview AI a spokesperson said, “We don’t have that advice.”
We have also reached out to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to ask whether it has been using the technology. Clearview AI has also been asked for comment.
Clearview AI isn’t publicly available, but active law enforcement personnel can request access via its website.