It's a privacy nightmare in the making.
According to documents obtained by tech accountability nonprofit Tech Inquiry, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) signed a contract with (the extremely controversial) facial recognition tech company Clearview AI, New York-based startup currently being sued by several companies and civil rights groups.
The contract, only listing "mission support," included a purchase order of $224,000 and lists “ICE mission support Dallas” as the contracting office, as The Verge reports.
Earlier this year, Clearview AI was faced with legal threats from tech giants including Facebook, Google, and Twitter, after selling its technology to thousands of organizations around the world, as BuzzFeed News reports. Several tech companies have since sent cease and desist letters to the startup.
In May, American Civil Liberties Union also filed a lawsuit against the controversial startup, alleging that Clearview AI illegally collected and sold stored data on Illinois citizens without consent.
Facial Recognition in Law Enforcement
Making matters worse, a New York Times investigation in January also found that law enforcement agencies were making use of Clearview AI's facial recognition technology.
Unfortunately, the US immigration agency has had a less than stellar reputation itself. ICE was in the news last year when it, alongside the FBI, accessed drivers' license data without ever asking for consent of the drivers, according to the Washington Post.
The use of facial recognition technology by law enforcement was in the news last week, when a UK court ruled that the South Wales Police’s facial recognition tools violated human rights as they didn't properly address racial biases.
Whatever "mission support" Clearview will be providing ICE with remains to be seen, but expect the degree of deployment to be matched with scrutiny from civil rights groups and watchdogs as it happens. Which is to say: In due time, we're sure to find out.
READ MORE: ICE just signed a contract with facial recognition company Clearview AI [The Verge]
More on facial recognition: UK Court Slams Automatic Facial Recognition Tech as Unlawful