Hot potato: A privacy regulator in the United Kingdom has tasked controversial facial recognition firm Clearview AI with clearing its database of all UK citizen data. It also fined a US company £7.5m ($9.4m) for violating local privacy laws.

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Office of the UK Information Commissioner (ICO) accusations that Clearview AI failed to use the data fairly and transparently because the firm did not inform UK residents that it was collecting their personal biometric data. It also states that Clearview had no legitimate reason to collect people’s personal information and no method to prevent it from being stored indefinitely. All of these activities violate UK data collection regulations.

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It is not clear if the ICO can force Clearview to comply. Privacy monitors in other EU countries have published similar decrees. However, founder and CEO Ton-Tat claims that his company has no contracts with agencies in the EU and that the service is not available in any of the member countries, including the UK.

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“While we appreciate the desire of the ICO to reduce their monetary penalty on Clearview AI, we nevertheless stand by our position that it is wrong as a matter of law to impose any penalty,” a spokesperson for the company said. “Clearview AI is not subject to ICO jurisdiction and Clearview AI does not currently do business in the UK.”

However, in previous years the firm has sold its services to several agencies in the UK, including the Metropolitan Police, the Department of Defense and the National Crime Agency. It pulled out of the UK market under pressure, but apparently still keeps records of UK residents in its database.

The ICO told The Verge that if Clearview does not perform with the order, it can issue more fines. However, this does not change the fact that he has no other means to enforce the decision. In other words, if Clearview ignores the first order, what’s to stop it from ignoring further orders?

Whether or not the ICO’s actions have any teeth or not, the regulator has given the company 28 days to appeal. Barring a positive outcome for Clearview, the company has six months to remove the data from the UK and pay a £7.5m fine.

Image credit: Coincidence Andrey Popov, Clearview AI from Ascannio