The BBC reports that ClearView, an Australian firm selling access to a database of more than 10 billion facial images, is facing a potential £17m fine in thge UK over its handling of UK personal data.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said “it had significant concerns about Clearview AI”, whose facial recognition software is used by police forces and ClearView has been instructed to stop processing UK personal data and delete any it has. Clearview itself disputes the UK regulator’s claims desxcribing them as “factually and legally incorrect” and is considering further action in light of the UK allegations though it has already lost and is appealing a similar case in Australia. The UK decision is provisional and the ICO said any representations by Clearview AI will be carefully considered before a final ruling is made in the middle of next year. 

Whilst the ClearView’s  service to police is described as resembling a “Google search for faces” the UK’s Information Commissioner said that Clearview’s database was likely to include “a substantial number of people from the UK” whose data may have been gathered without people’s knowledge.

The firm’s services are understood to have been trialled by a number of UK law enforcement agencies, but that was discontinued and Clearview AI does not have any UK customers. 

Earlier this year Facebook announced that it would no longer use facial recognition software to identify faces in photographs and videos marking a more cautious view by some social media companies whilst others continue to gather facial recognition data (for now).