A photo storage app used customers’ private snaps to train facial recognition AI

From The Verge: A photo storage app that offers users “free, unlimited private backup of all your life’s memories” has been secretly using customers’ private snaps to train and sell facial recognition software.

As detailed in a report from NBC News, the startup Ever launched as a simple cloud storage business in 2013, but pivoted to become a facial recognition technology vendor in 2017 after realizing that a photo app “wasn’t going to be a venture-scale business.”

Customers, though, were not informed of this change — or how their photographs and videos are now being used.

The company’s original 2,500-word privacy policy stated that facial recognition helped “organize” users files, letting them group together images of the same individual. The only acknowledgement that this data was also being used to train AI was contained in a single, cryptic line: “Your files may be used to help improve and train our products and these technologies.”

After the company was contacted by NBC News in April it updated this privacy policy, adding a sentence to explain that these “products” include “enterprise face recognition offerings.” But experts say the company clearly violated users’ privacy by failing to inform them how their personal data is being used.

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