Clearview AI Might Owe You Equity


Back in May 2022, facial-recognition startup Clearview AI agreed to a nationwide ban that prohibited it from selling access to its database to the majority of private companies and individuals. Now the company has agreed to a settlement in a class-action lawsuit that grants equity in the company to the individuals whose faces appear in its database.

The company is offering up a collective 23% stake in the company to all those impacted, which as it turns out, is likely a fairly substantial number of people.

Clearview created its database of more than 10 billion photos by scraping images from news sites and social media profiles without permission. So, chances are if an image of you has ever appeared online you’re potentially part of the company’s database, even if you don’t know it.

Based on the company’s current valuation, the settlement—which still has to be approved by a federal judge—could be worth at least $50 million. Without it, Clearview faces bankruptcy.

The 2022 ban came about following another lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union as well as other advocacy groups. They sued the company claiming that Clearview’s database violated privacy laws in Illinois that prohibit private companies from collection biometric data on users without their expressed consent.

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While the company cannot sell its product to individuals or private companies, it can offer its database to law enforcement and government agencies.

As Engadget notes, the stock settlement will likely equate to around $0.25 per person, and the “payout” will only happen if Clearview goes public or is sold, so you might be waiting a while. The company is also facing a number of other lawsuits, which could shrink the pot even more.

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