In 2019, New York Times reporter and author of 'Your Face Belongs to Us: The Secretive Start Up Dismantling Your Privacy' Kashmir Hill received a tip-off from an unnamed source about a mysterious company called Clearview AI.
The company claimed that, with a single image of someone's face, it could accurately identify almost anyone with more than 98 per cent accuracy – a frightening prospect, if true, with far-reaching implications for individuals' privacy.
Hill, then six months pregnant, embarked on an investigation to find out more about the elusive company – only to come up against constant and curious dead-ends.
Like something from a Hollywood movie, the company simply... didn't seem to exist.
But the deeper Hill went in her investigation, the more shocking the story became – and the closer a dystopian future devoid of privacy seemed.
The following is an edited extract from 'Your Face Belongs to Us: The Secretive Start Up Dismantling Your Privacy, in which Hill documents her journey to find out more about the company and the implications of unchecked facial recognition apps.
The company's online presence was limited to a simple blue website with a Pac-Man-esque logo – the C chomping down on the V – and the tagline “Artificial Intelligence for a better world.” There wasn’t much else there, just a form to “request access” (which I filled out and sent to no avail) and an address in New York City.