Cabinet insists: police have never used Clearview AI software

The Dutch police have never used the facial recognition software of the American Clearview AI. An internal policy prohibits agents from using this application in their daily work. However, it is impossible to rule out the possibility that an individual agent has ever asked Clearview AI questions, or that someone has posed as a police officer.

That’s what outgoing Minister of Legal Protection Sander Dekker writes an answer to written questions by Lisa van Ginneken (D66) and Kauthar Bouchallikh (Green left).

House of Representatives outraged by police use of Clearview AI services

The US Buzzfeed News published an article in August this year claiming that a National Police employee allegedly asked questions about Clearview AI’s facial recognition software. In fact, leaked internal data showed that the Dutch police had used the company’s services between 51 and 100 times. That was the reason why Van Ginneken and Bouchallikh questioned Minister Dekker on the matter.

“Did you know about the use of Clearview AI within the police and government? If so, why didn’t you inform the House about this? If not, how is it possible that despite several requests from the House to inventory the use of Clearview AI, this has not emerged? ”, The deputies wondered. They also wanted an answer to the question of whether there are other public organizations in our country that use the controversial facial recognition software and what measures the minister will take to ensure that the National Police cannot simply use the company’s software.

Dekker: Dutch police do not buy Clearview AI services

Four weeks after the D66 and GroenLinks factions submitted the questions, Minister Dekker answered them. In a letter to the House of Representatives, the minister writes that he has made inquiries with the police. Employees indicated that Clearview AI had not approached them centrally. The police are also unaware of any contact with the US company and deny having purchased products there. Police do not work with Clearview AI and do not intend to. Therefore, the software has never been used in Dutch criminal cases.

“However, it cannot be ruled out that an individual police officer has once visited the Clearview website and made a series of inquiries. That does not mean that this system has been implemented operationally, “writes Minister Dekker. Nor does it rule out the possibility that someone has contacted the company posing as the police. Due to” the lack of additional information from both BuzzFeed News and of Clearview AI “, according to the minister, this is impossible to verify.

“Neither in the financial records of the police, nor in the departments involved in the digital investigations, was there any indication that Clearview had been used,” writes Minister Dekker. It indicates that it does not know whether the Clearview AI facial recognition technology is used by Dutch public organizations. He sees no reason to take additional steps to restrict the use of biometric services like Clearview AI’s.

‘Clearview AI facial recognition software is not GDPR compliant’

When asked if the use of Clearview AI’s facial recognition software is compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Minister Dekker replies that this is not the case. “The use of Clearview is incompatible with the legal provisions and violates our fundamental rights. The collection and processing of personal data for the purposes of criminal proceedings must have a specific purpose, must be based on the law and must comply with the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity. And this must be possible to monitor ”.

This does not mean that the Dutch police do not use biometric facial recognition technology. The application that the police use for this is Capture. The Minister of Legal Protection affirms that the Police have an internal policy line that prohibits “the use of facial recognition technology in operational processes”, unless the holders of the Ethics and Digitization portfolio give positive advice in this regard. “This has not yet led to the approval of a different use of biometric facial recognition technology than Catch,” Minister Dekker said.

Finally, the minister makes it clear that biometric surveillance using real-time facial recognition is not currently used in the Netherlands.

European regulators sue Clearview AI

Clearview AI’s facial recognition software is controversial internationally. Privacy advocates question whether the company has collected photos legally and legally. The company has indicated that most of its database is made up of photos collected from public sources, such as social media.

Regulators and privacy organizations in France, Italy, Greece, Austria and the UK have jointly filed a complaint against Clearview AI. They believe the company is violating European privacy regulations by collecting automated, large-scale biometric data from European citizens. No explicit permission has been given for this and there is no legal basis. Furthermore, Clearview AI is not transparent enough about what it does with the collected data and the company does not adhere to the principle of data minimization.

“Clearview’s technology and its use are causing damage that European data protection law was supposed to remedy. Therefore, Privacy International calls on regulators to take coordinated compliance measures to protect individuals from these highly invasive and dangerous practices, “Privacy International wrote in a press release in May.

Vince Fernandez

"Professional food trailblazer. Devoted communicator. Friendly writer. Avid problem solver. Tv aficionado. Lifelong social media fanatic."

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