Officials from the Finnish National Investigation Agency (NBI) have used the controversial face recognition application Clearview AI, although its use was not widely known in the organization, according to documents seen by Yle.
NBI’s attention was first brought to the attention of the US digital news agency Buzzfeed.
Clearview AI allows the user to upload a photo of the person and see his or her public photos on social media platforms, for example, as well as provide links to websites where the images were found. Police forces in several countries have begun using the app in recent years, and the use has also sparked a debate about privacy issues and the potential for misuse of the software.
Buzzfeed turned to NBI in March this year to inquire whether the Finnish authorities had used the controversial application. A day later, NBI incorrectly replied to the media that Clearview AI had not been used in Finland.
About a week later, Buzzfeed told NBI that, to their knowledge, the Finnish police had used the software about 120 times. The Police Board and the NBI immediately launched an investigation and found that Buzzfeed’s information turned out to be correct.
“Not suitable for police use”
NBI informed Clearview AI’s Privacy Officer and said it would discontinue use of the application. According to the Finnish police, the application "not suitable for police use."
In a statement to the Data Protection Agency, the police revealed that the application was first submitted to the Finnish authorities at an event hosted by the EU law enforcement agency Europol in 2019 and was recommended for use in sexual abuse investigations.
"The presentation also gave the impression to participants that the system does not store searches and would therefore be suitable for this use," opinion added.
For example, images of victims of sexual abuse could be added to the app and attempts could be made to identify and protect them.
NBI’s Child Sexual Exploitation Unit began using the app in 2020, and about 120 searches were made during the free trial period.
During the trial, one so-called A hit that led to cooperation between the NBI and the social authorities, even though no investigation had been launched.
Authorities are not currently aware of the consequences for individuals whose data has been processed through Clearview AI, such as data leaks or other misuse, but the NBI is still investigating.
The Finnish police also use their own face recognition system called KASTU. This system can be used to identify suspected criminals from the police record, and according to the NBI, KASTU is still in use and meets the necessary data protection and security requirements.
Source: The Nordic Page