Documents obtained exclusively by Lucy Parsons Labs reveal Chicago-area police entered into a $50,000 dollar contract with a controversial facial recognition company, Clearview AI, using counter-terrorism funds. Chicago Police obtained the funding under the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) which the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) funnels to local police in order to “prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from acts of terrorism.” Clearview’s contract with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) was cancelled after public outcry over its controversial data collection in violation of Illinois’ biometrics privacy law.
UASI funding to Clearview was approved by the First Deputy Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, Anthony Riccio, the second highest ranking official within CPD. Riccio approved the funding for the software for use in the Crime Prevention and Information Center (CPIC). CPIC is the Chicagoland-area “fusion center” created after 9/11 to “improve the sharing of intelligence information related to terrorism among federal, state and local authorities.” Over seventy centers exist across the country and internationally. Fusion centers have long been criticized for their documented history of spying on First Amendment activity and fabricating threats against police and corporations.
Clearview AI is facing a number of legal challenges after its indiscriminate collection of biometric data was revealed on the front page of the New York Times. Among the legal arguments raised by Clearview is that the company is not subject to the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act (BIPA) a law which requires companies to obtain written permission from an individual before it can collect biometric information such as facial geometry or fingerprints. However, the Illinois Supreme Court has rejected challenges to BIPA as urged by Lucy Parsons Labs and other civil society groups.
Counter-terrorism funds flowing to Clearview are part of a series of emails filed as exhibits during ongoing litigation against the company. As part of its legal defense, Clearview claims it is not soliciting business in Illinois in an effort to dismiss the case against it. However, documents obtained by Lucy Parsons Labs and filed in a sworn affidavit reveal this to be a lie.