Apple has blocked the developer certificate of Clearview AI thereby rendering its app useless. The startup has a facial recognition app used by law enforcement agencies that allows them to click or upload a photo and search its database of 3 billion photos.
While the startup claims that its app is only used by law enforcement users, it has been discovered that Walmart, Macy’s and other private companies also used it. The startup’s app has been at the center of a controversy due to the way it functions. Its database of 3 billion photos has been made by scrapping photos from social media sites.
TechCrunch found Clearview AI’s iPhone app on a public Amazon S3 storage bucket. It managed to install the app on their iPhone, though using it required a username and password from the startup.
Since the Clearview AI app is not listed on the App Store, the startup uses Apple’s enterprise certificate to distribute it. Apple, however, prohibits developers from distributing apps in such a manner outside of their own organization. Enterprise certificates are meant for deploying test or internal builds in a company rather than distributing apps that would be booted off the App Store for policy violations.
“We are in contact with Apple and working on complying with their terms and conditions,” Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That said in a statement. “The app can not be used without a valid Clearview account. A user can download the app, but not perform any searches without proper authorization and credentials.”
Apple has previously revoked the enterprise certificate of many companies, including tech giant Facebook for violating its terms and conditions. The company makes it clear that apps should not be distributed to the public using its enterprise certificate.[Via BuzzFeedNews]