Ever app trained facial recognition tech on users’ photos, report says – CNET

The Ever app for iOS. The company behind it wants to sell facial recognition products to private companies and law enforcement, reports NBC News.


Ever, a photo storage and backup app, reportedly used millions of images uploaded to the service to train a commercial facial recognition system that it offers to law enforcement and private companies. The problem, according to NBC News? Ever didn’t disclose this to users of the app.

Photos uploaded to the Ever app are used to train an algorithm that powers the company’s facial recognition products, sold under Ever AI, NBC News reported on Thursday. This isn’t obvious on Ever’s website, according to NBC News, but the app reportedly updated its privacy policy in April with more information on how the company uses customers’ photos. NBC News said it spoke with seven Ever users, and most didn’t know their photos were being used to build facial recognition tech.

Ever didn’t immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment, but CEO Doug Aley told NBC News that Ever AI doesn’t share photos or identifying information about app users with its facial recognition customers.

Ever AI has contracts with private companies, including SoftBank Robotics, but it hasn’t signed up any “law enforcement, military or national security agencies,” according to NBC News.

The Ever app is available on Android and iOS, as well as Mac and Windows desktops.

Facial recognition is trained by feeding software millions of photos to teach the AI how to recognize people — the more images it has, the better. A problem has surfaced where facial recognition creators don’t have enough images to train its software on, and has been grabbing it from sources without people’s consent. 

In March, NBC News also found that IBM released nearly a million photos from Flickr to researchers without people’s consent. This raises questions of privacy concerns from people who are uploading their photos online, without giving consent to their image being used to develop surveillance technology.

Facial recognition is being used by police, at airports and in stores, as lawmakers raise concerns about how the technology is used. San Francisco lawmakers have proposed legislation that could make it the first US city to ban using facial recognition by city agencies

Originally published at 9:57 a.m. PT.
Updated at 11:21 a.m. PT: To include details on facial recognition. 

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