Photo Storage App Reportedly Used Customers' Images to Train a Facial Recognition System
Ever, a photo storage and backup app, reportedly trained a commercial facial recognition system using millions of images uploaded to the service without notifying users.
- By Jessica Davis
- May 10, 2019
Millions of images uploaded to Ever, a photo storage and backup app, were reportedly used by the service without user knowledge to train a commercial facial recognition system. According to NBC News, Ever didn’t disclose to users of the app that their images would be used this way.
After NBC News first made contact with Ever for its reporting, the company added the following sentence to clarify and explain further: “Some of these technologies may be used in our separate products and services for enterprise customers, including our enterprise face recognition offerings, but your files and personal information will not be,” the policy now states.
CEO Doug Aley told NBC News that Ever AI doesn’t share photos or identifying information about users of its app with its facial recognition customers.
According to Aley, Ever decided to explore facial recognition a few years ago when he and other company leadership realized that a free photo app with some premium features for purchase “wasn’t going to be a venture-scale business.” Aley said that Ever having a “corpus” of more than 13 billion images was very valuable when developing an algorithm for facial recognition.
“If you are able to feed a system many millions of faces, that system is going to end up being better and more accurate on the other side of that,” he said.
NBC News reports that Ever AI has contracts with private companies but hasn’t signed with any “law enforcement, military or national security agencies”.
On the company’s website, Ever AI encourages public agencies to use its “technology to provide your citizens and law enforcement personnel with the highest degree of protection from crime, violence and injustice.”