Months before facial recognition company Clearview AI was on the front page of the New York Times, the company was quietly advertising to police departments across the country, emails obtained by OneZero show.
Clearview AI emailed advertisements to police departments in August 2019 with the subject line “How To Solve Crimes Instantly With Face Search Technology,” using the Fraternal Order of Police’s online platform FOPConnect.
“Clearview is like Google Search for faces,” the ad copy reads. “It only takes one photo of a suspect’s face, one quick tap on your cell phone or computer, and one second of search time. Get results from mug shots, social media, and other publicly available sources.”
FOPConnect is operated by 911Media, which has previously advertised an email list with more than 60,000 recipients, including police departments around the country. The FOP is a U.S. law enforcement labor organization with around 350,000 members. On a phone call with OneZero, a member of 911Media said the Clearview email was an advertisement but declined to comment further. Clearview also did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
“Strategic ad buys will grow your brand recognition in the nationwide public safety community,” 911Media wrote in the 2019 advertising brochure. “Position your brand with law enforcement across the country and create a relationship with these officers.”
OneZero obtained a month’s worth of emails sent by FOPConnect to determine whether facial recognition was a typical advertisement for the mailing list. Of six other emails sent by FOPConnect in August 2019 to the police department of Green Bay, Wisconsin, three were for education opportunities, one was for fundraising strategies, another was a training platform, and the last was speech recognition software for easier dictation of notes.
“Strategic ad buys will grow your…