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Apple cuts off dev access for controversial face recognition app maker Clearview AI

Apple cuts off dev access for controversial face recognition app maker Clearview AI
[Photo: Nicole Cagnina/Unsplash]

Apple has cut off developer access to the iOS version of the Clearview AI facial recognition app, saying that it violates the terms of Clearview’s developer agreement, BuzzFeed News reports.

Clearview AI was using a software distribution tool Apple created for developers to share their apps directly with people in their own companies, sidestepping the App Store. But Clearview was using the tool, which came with membership in Apple’s Enterprise Developer Program, to distribute its app to its more than 2,200 customers. That violates the terms of its agreement, as BuzzFeed News pointed out to Apple, prompting the tech giant to act.

The Clearview AI app works like an internet “face search.” Based on a facial recognition scan by the camera of a mobile device, Clearview then searches for matches from within the billions of facial images it’s scraped from the web and now stores on its servers. A January 18 profile by the New York Times‘s Kashmir Hill on the secretive startup, which is funded in part by Peter Thiel, set off a major discussion about how facial recognition tech should and shouldn’t be used.

Now that Apple has cut off Clearview AI’s membership in the program, the New York-based developer will no longer be able to distribute the iOS version of its app in this way. It’ll still be able to distribute the app to Android devices used by its customers, however. Clearview’s customers comprise mostly law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad, and a few companies such as Macy’s and Best Buy.

Earlier this week, New York-based Clearview AI said its entire client list had been stolen by hackers.

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