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Unpacking Clearview AI’s Controversy

Clearview AI, a facial recognition firm from New York, finds itself at the center of a heated legal battle. The company has scooped up billions of photos from the internet to build a vast facial recognition database, used by law enforcement agencies like local police, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI. The problem? They did this without asking for permission, sparking numerous lawsuits that have now merged into a major class-action suit.

Lawyer at work reviewing legal documents, sitting at a desk with a scale of justice, gavel

An Innovative Settlement Proposal

Strapped for cash, Clearview AI has pitched an unconventional settlement to resolve the lawsuit. Instead of compensating those affected with cash, it’s offering them a 23 percent stake in the company. Valued at roughly $52 million, based on the company’s $225 million market worth, this offer is unprecedented.

How This Settlement Could Work

This proposal would transform victims into partial owners of Clearview AI. If the company were to go public or get bought out, these stakeholders could potentially profit. They would also have the option, after two years, to either sell their shares or receive payouts from 17 percent of the company’s reserved earnings.

The Ethical and Legal Dilemmas

This novel approach is stirring up a lot of ethical and legal questions. It’s unusual for a settlement to make victims reliant on the success of the very company that invaded their privacy. The proposal is pending approval from Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman and has sparked intense debate regarding its fairness and morality.

Divided Opinions

The response to Clearview’s proposal is mixed. Some legal experts and privacy advocates see it as a creative and practical solution given the company’s financial woes. However, figures like Evan Greer from Fight for the Future argue that it fails to adequately address the privacy violations and might even motivate the company to continue its controversial practices.

Delve into the details of Clearview AI’s daring proposal in a class-action lawsuit—offering equity instead of cash to those impacted by its facial recognition tech. This article explores the deep-seated legal and ethical implications of this unprecedented settlement.

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FAQ: Clearview AI’s Equity Settlement Offer

1. What exactly did Clearview AI do to face a lawsuit?

Clearview AI, a tech firm specializing in facial recognition, collected billions of photos from the internet without people’s permission to build a massive database. This database was used by various law enforcement agencies, leading to privacy concerns and a significant lawsuit against the company for violating people’s rights to privacy.

2. Why is Clearview AI offering equity instead of cash as a settlement?

Facing financial difficulties, Clearview AI has proposed a unique solution to settle the class-action lawsuit—offering a 23 percent stake in the company to those affected by their actions, rather than traditional cash payouts. This approach not only reflects the company’s current economic challenges but also introduces an innovative, albeit controversial, method of compensation.

3. What are the potential risks and benefits for plaintiffs accepting equity in Clearview AI?

Risks: Accepting equity ties the plaintiffs’ compensation to the future success of Clearview AI. If the company fails to thrive, the shares might lose value, leading to inadequate compensation for the privacy breaches.
Benefits: If Clearview AI succeeds, becomes public, or is acquired, the shares could increase in value, potentially offering a higher return than a fixed cash settlement. Additionally, holding equity could provide plaintiffs a stake in the company’s decision-making, influencing its future practices.

Sources The New York Times