Kashmir Hill: Clearview AI, Facial Recognition Technology, and Threats to Our Privacy

Are you one in a million? One in a billion? What if an app could pick you out of a crowd based on your face alone? 

New York Times tech reporter Kashmir Hill was skeptical when she got a tip about a mysterious app called Clearview AI that claimed it could, with 99 percent accuracy, identify anyone based on just one snapshot of their face. The app could supposedly scan a face and, in just seconds, surface every detail of a person’s online life: their name, social media profiles, friends and family members, home address, and photos that they might not have even known existed. If it was everything it claimed to be, it would be the ultimate surveillance tool, and it would open the door to everything from stalking to totalitarian state control. Could it be true?

Hill tracked the improbable rise of Clearview AI and its astounding collection of billions of faces from the internet. Google and Facebook decided that a tool to identify strangers was too radical to release, but Clearview forged ahead, sharing the app with private investors, pitching it to businesses, and offering it to thousands of law enforcement agencies around the world.

Join us for a surprising look at the rise of a technological superpower and an urgent warning that, in the absence of vigilance and government regulation, Clearview AI is one of many new technologies that challenge what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once called “the right to be let alone.”


Photo by Earl Wilson.

This program is generously supported by the Jackson Square Partners Foundation.



All in-person attendees will receive a copy of Your Face Belongs to Us, compliments of the Ken & Jaclyn Broad Family Fund.


Image - Kashmir Hill

Kashmir Hill

Enterprise Reporter, The New York Times; Author, Your Face Belongs to Us: A Secretive Startup’s Quest to End Privacy as We Know It; Twitter @kashhill

Image - Casey Newton

In Conversation with Casey Newton

Founder and Editor, Platformer; Co-host, "The New York Times Hard Fork” Podcast; Twitter @CaseyNewton