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Microsoft slammed for investment in Israeli facial recognition 'spying on Palestinians'

Author: Thomas Brewster, Forbes, Published on: 1 August 2019

Microsoft is under fire for funding the Israeli facial recognition company AnyVision, which is reportedly carrying out surveillance on Palestinians. AnyVision also supplies technology in Russia and Hong Kong, where human rights are under attack. Privacy activists say it’s another sign Microsoft is pushing the controversial technology, despite presenting itself as more progressive and transparent on the ethics of facial recognition than rivals like Amazon and Google... [According to Shankar Narayan, the director of the Technology and Liberty Project at the ACLU] "This particular investment is not a big surprise to me—there’s a demonstrable gap between action and rhetoric in the case of most big tech companies and Microsoft in particular." Microsoft, meanwhile, says it’s been consistent in its messaging on the surveillance technology.

... [I]n mid-July [2019], it was reported that AnyVision, a startup that came to market only two years ago promising 99.9% accurate facial recognition, was involved in Israeli surveillance projects across the West Bank. Haaretz published a report from TheMarker that claimed the army was using AnyVision at checkpoints on the way into Israel and across a network of cameras within the West Bank... Amos Toh, senior researcher covering artificial intelligence and human rights at the Human Rights Watch [said], "“I think it’s incumbent on Microsoft to really look at what that means for the human rights risk associated with the investment in a company that’s providing this technology to an occupying power,” he added. “It’s not just privacy risk but a privacy risk associated with a minority group that has suffered repression and persecution for a long time."

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