Join us for an in-person event with New York Times reporter Kashmir Hill for the launch of her new book Your Face Belongs to Us: A Secretive Startup's Quest to End Privacy as We Know It. Joining Kashmir in conversation is New York Times bestselling author Elie Mystal. This event will be hosted in the Strand Book Store's 3rd floor Rare Book Room at 828 Broadway on 12th Street.
Can't make the event? Purchase a signed copy of Your Face Belongs to Us here.
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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 & family members, home address, & photos that they might not have even known existed. If it was everything it claimed to be, it would be the ultimate surveillance tool, & it would open the door to everything from stalking to totalitarian state control. Could it be true?
In this riveting account, Hill tracks the improbable rise of Clearview AI, helmed by Hoan Ton-That, an Australian computer engineer, & Richard Schwartz, a former Rudy Giuliani advisor, & its astounding collection of billions of faces from the internet. The company was boosted by a cast of controversial characters, including conservative provocateur Charles C. Johnson & billionaire Donald Trump backer Peter Thiel-who all seemed eager to release this society-altering technology on the public. Google & 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, & offering it to thousands of law enforcement agencies around the world.
Facial recognition technology has been quietly growing more powerful for decades. This technology has already been used in wrongful arrests in the United States. Unregulated, it could expand the reach of policing, as it has in China & Russia, to a terrifying, dystopian level.
Your Face Belongs to Us is a gripping true story about the rise of a technological superpower & an urgent warning that, in the absence of vigilance & 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.
Kashmir Hill is a tech reporter at The New York Times, where her writing about the intersection of privacy & technology pioneered the genre. Hill has worked & written for a number of publications, including The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Gizmodo, Popular Science, Forbes, & many others.
Photo credit: Earl Wilson
Elie Mystal is The Nation's justice correspondent & the host of its legal podcast, Contempt of Court. He is also an Alfred Knobler Fellow at the Type Media Center. His first book is the New York Times bestseller Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy's Guide to the Constitution, published by The New Press. Elie can be followed @ElieNYC