Leaked documents reportedly show Clearview AI sold its tech to Walmart, the NBA, and many private firms — contradicting its claims it only works with law enforcement

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  • Facial recognition startup Clearview AI has reportedly been used by private firms across multiple industries, as well as law enforcement agencies.
  • Clearview AI’s CEO, Hoan Ton-That, has previously claimed its tech is meant “strictly for law enforcement” but the documents appear to indicate private companies widely use the service too.
  • Clearview AI revealed earlier this week that its entire client list had been stolen in a breach.
  • Commenting on the documents, an attorney for Clearview AI told BuzzFeed News there are “numerous inaccuracies in this illegally-obtained information.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Facial recognition startup ClearviewAI reportedly has been used by private firms across numerous industries, as well as law enforcement including the FBI, and Interpol.

According to documents obtained and reported by BuzzFeed News, Clearview AI’s facial recognition software has been used by people in more than 2,200 law enforcement departments, government agencies, and companies across 27 countries.

Having approached multiple organizations listed in the documents, BuzzFeed said officials at “a number” of these organizations initially didn’t know their employees were using the software or denied ever trying it. Some reportedly admitted that ClearviewAI accounts did exist within their organizations after being sent follow-up questions.

New York-based ClearviewAI, which describes itself as operating in “full compliance with the law,” develops facial recognition technology – ostensibly meant for catching criminals – used by more than 600 US police departments.

Its CEO Hoan Ton-That claimed earlier this month that its tech is meant “strictly for law enforcement.” But BuzzFeed’s leak suggests it has been used by private firms too.

An NBA spokesperson told Business Insider that “while we conducted a limited test as we do with an array of potential vendors, we are not and have never been a client of this company.”

Interpol said it used a wide range of technologies in its work to identify victims of child sexual abuse. “A small number of officers have used a 30-day free trial account to test the Clearview software,” a spokeswoman said. She added that Interpol did not have a “formal” relationship with Clearview AI.

An attorney for Clearview AI questioned the documents obtained by BuzzFeed, claiming there are “numerous inaccuracies in this illegally-obtained information” in a comment to the publication. Business Insider has approached Clearview AI for comment.

BuzzFeed’s report comes days after Clearview AI admitted that its entire client list had been stolen in a breach.

Clearview AI is already facing legal action from Facebook, Google, and Twitter for alleged photo-scraping – obtaining and using photos without consent. All three have sent cease-and-desist letters to the company, with the number of photos it’s scraped thought to number in the billions.

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