Unusual Settlement Reached in Facial-Recognition Lawsuit

Clearview AI offers a stake in company to Americans whose photos it used
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2024 12:08 PM CDT
Settlement Means You Might Own a (Tiny) Stake of AI Firm
   (Getty / Prostock-Studio)

Congratulations, you might soon be the part-owner of a facial-recognition company powered by artificial intelligence. Granted, the stake is miniscule, but still. The weirdness is the result of what Reuters describes as an "unusual" class-action settlement by the company Clearview AI. The lawsuit accuses Clearview of grabbing billions of photos of people off the internet without permission for its facial-recognition tool, explains the New York Times. Because it would go broke if it had to pay cash to so many people, the company instead has offered a collective 23% stake in the company to Americans who wound up in its database. Anyone in the US who has ever had a photo of themselves posted online is a potential beneficiary and could submit a claim if the deal goes through.

The arrangement still must be approved by a judge, and various aspects depend on whether the company goes public. However it works out, don't expect to get rich from the windfall. Engadget floats the hypothetical scenario of a third of Americans, or 110 million people, being in the database. When all is said and done—and lawyers take their cut—the aforementioned windfall would amount to 27 cents. "That does beg the question of whether it would be worth just over a quarter to see one of the creepiest companies of all time to go bankrupt," writes Steve Dent. Clearview has boasted that it has 30 billion images in its database, which is widely used by police departments across the country. (More facial recognition technology stories.)

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