Apple pulls controversial facial recognition app from store

Apple has blocked AI facial recognition app Clearview from the App Store after it was found to have violated the rules related to developer accounts.

The controversial app, which allows users to tap into a database of 3bn photos and take advantage of its advanced facial recognition features, was available on iOS after being published under the enterprise developer program.

Clearview was built primarily for law enforcement, but a report last week claimed that the app had developed a strong private sector following, with Wells Fargo and Walmart among the companies using it.

The company behind the app had reportedly sidestepped Apple’s own guidelines to push the service to various government and private entities with a preview of its capabilities.

Apple explicitly states that the developer program is solely for the distribution of apps internally and that public sharing and releases are prohibited.

Companies that violate the guidelines are banned from the scheme, so it is no surprise that Apple has moved quickly to remove the app from circulation.

When asked about the decision, an Apple spokesperson said that Cleaview AI now has two weeks to provide a response to the allegations.

The company’s CEO, Hoan Ton-That, said that it was already in contact with the Cupertino-based company and is doing everything it can to come into line with the terms and conditions.

He added: “The app cannot be used without a valid Clearview account. A user can download the app, but not perform any searches without proper authorization and credentials.”

This goes against the latest reports claiming that the iPhone app is accessible from a public webpage, which also provides a how-to on authorising the app for use on iOS and Android.

Another report said that private investigation teams and police officers were able to create accounts and make use of the application without any additional authorisation.

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About the author


I've been a passionate evangelist for Apple and the Macintosh throughout my working life, my first love was a Quadra 605 working with a small creative agency in the south of Norfolk UK in the mid 1990's, I later progressed to other roles in other Macintosh dominated industries, first as a Senior graphic designer at a small printing company and then a production manager at Guardian Media Group. As the publishing and printing sector wained I moved into Internet Marketing and in 2006 co-founded which grew to become one the top 200 visited sites in the US (according to Quantcast), at its peak receiving over 15 million visits per month. For the last ten years I have worked as an Affiliate and Consultant to many different business and start ups, my key skill set being online marketing, on page monetisation, landing page optimisation and traffic generation, if you would like to hire me or discuss your current project please reach out to me here.

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