By collecting images from websites, social media and videos, the Clearview AI company has created an image bank that they market as an image search engine. Using facial recognition, the search engine can find a person based on their photograph and a "biometric template", that is, a digital representation of a person's physical characteristics (the face in this case). Many data subjects in the image bank are unaware of this and of the possibility of identifying them using the biometric template. According to the CNIL, the processing lacks a legal basis as the company has not obtained consent from the data subjects and cannot be considered to have a legitimate interest in the processing. The CNIL attaches particular importance to the fact that the processing poses very serious risks to the data subjects' fundamental rights.
After Clearview AI did not stop processing the data after the CNIL called on them to do so, the CNIL has now decided to fine the company 20 million euros. The CNIL also announced that Clearview AI must cease all illegal collection and processing of French citizens' personal data. The company is given two months to delete all personal data already collected and for each day that passes these two months, the penalty fee is increased by 100,000 euros.