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Ukraine Has Started Using Clearview AI’s Facial Recognition During War

The exact purpose for which Ukraine’s defense ministry is using the technology is unclear
Members of the Territorial Defence Force stand guard at a check point, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, at the Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine, March 3, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
Members of the Territorial Defence Force stand guard at a check point, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, at the Independence Square in central Kyiv, Ukraine, March 3, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Ukraine’s defense ministry on Saturday began using Clearview AI’s facial recognition technology, the company’s chief executive told Reuters, after the U.S. startup offered to uncover Russian assailants, combat misinformation and identify the dead.

Ukraine is receiving free access to Clearview AI’s powerful search engine for faces, letting authorities potentially vet people of interest at checkpoints, among other uses, added Lee Wolosky, an adviser to Clearview and former diplomat under U.S. presidents Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

The plans started forming after Russia invaded Ukraine and Clearview Chief Executive Hoan Ton-That sent a letter to Kyiv offering assistance, according to a copy seen by Reuters.

Clearview said it had not offered the technology to Russia, which calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation.”

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense did not reply to requests for comment. Previously, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation said it was considering offers from U.S.-based artificial intelligence companies like Clearview. Many Western businesses have pledged to help Ukraine, providing internet hardware, cybersecurity tools and other support. 

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