UAE: Tech firms to sell facial recognition technology in Gulf despite potential damage to privacy rights

Author: Megha Rajagopalan, Buzzfeed News, Published on: 7 June 2019

"Facial Recognition Technology is Facing a Huge Backlash in the US but some of the World's Biggest Tech Companies Are Trying to Sell it in the Gulf", 29 May 2019

Tech giants such as IBM, and China’s Hikvision and Huawei, are marketing biometric surveillance systems in the UAE, where citizens have fewer options to push back...

"Where there is not much freedom of expression and people are being jailed for what they say, when you introduce artificial intelligence, it’s used by systems of power to reinforce their control over the population. They are weaponizing this technology" [said digital rights technologist Sarah Aoun]... Hikvision, and IBM said they saw the UAE and other countries in the Persian Gulf as an exciting market to sell their video analysis platforms... Studies have shown racial bias baked into leading facial recognition platforms, raising questions about misidentification of suspects...

BuzzFeed News spoke to several former detainees, prisoners, and human rights advocates who focus on the UAE. They said the widespread use of face recognition in Dubai is likely to lead to misuse and could do serious damage to privacy rights...

Hikvision and Huawei declined to comment on the statements in this article. A spokesperson for IBM said the company has “robust processes in place to ensure potential client engagements are consistent with our values, as well as US and local laws.”

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