AI Company Clarifai Hit With Lawsuit Over OkCupid “Face Database”

An artificial intelligence company faces a state court lawsuit over claims that it used OkCupid profile photos to train facial recognition algorithms, without the consent of users.

Clarifai was accused by The New York Times in July of building a “face database” that was being used in the creation of controversial technology to keep track of the public.

Lead plaintiff Jordan Stein is complaining that the deed was in violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. 

He believes that the company gained access to the images with the help of an OkCupid investor, although Clarifai CEO Matt Zeiler insists he was granted access by the dating app’s founders.

OkCupid’s Global Communications Officer Michael Kaye told Bloomberg Law: “OkCupid did not enter into any commercial agreement at that time with Clarifai, and has no relationship with the company now.”

It is unclear how many images Clarifai scraped from the dating platform but, under Illinois law, it could face a fine of up to $5,000 for each wilful violation.

Earlier this year, Facebook came to a $550 million settlement to bring an end to claims made against it under the same law.

A 47-year-old man was sentenced to two years probation in October, after pleading guilty to mailing threatening communications and conveying false information concerning purported biological weapons. 

Liam MacLeod repeatedley made threats to OkCupid CEO Ariel Charytan when he was banned from the app for breaking the community guidelines. Over a four month period he sent nine letters to Charytan, two of which contained substances that he claimed were anthrax and HIV-infected blood. Both materials were found to be harmless.

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