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Microsoft slammed for funding facial recognition spying company which targets Palestinians

Occupied Palestine (QNN)- Microsoft is criticized for funding the Israeli facial recognition company AnyVision, which is reportedly carrying out mass-surveillance on Palestinians. AnyVision also supplies technology in Russia and Hong Kong, where human rights are under attack.

For a long time now, Microsoft had presented a facade regarding the ethics of facial recognition when compared to contemporaries such as Google and Amazon.

In mid-July, it was found that AnyVision was involved in Israeli surveillance project across the West Bank. This new reveal makes it clear that big tech is heavily inclined towards supporting bleeding edge technology that may have undesirable consequences with respect to privacy and security of the general public.

Forbes quoted Shankar Narayan, the director of the Technology and Liberty Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) saying that he’d held meetings with Microsoft in Seattle last year in which the tech giant appeared receptive to ideas on holding back the spread of facial recognition. But the company has not followed through with any action, Narayan claimed.

“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,” he said.

Despite of previous warnings by its president that the facial recognition technology could be misused, Microsoft’s M12 venture capital arm announced in June it was joining a $78 million Series A funding round for AnyVision. As part of that deal, AnyVision agreed to adopt Microsoft’s six principles: fairness, transparency, accountability, non-discrimination, notice and consent, and lawful surveillance, which were laid out to guide its approach to facial recognition, as the two planned a partnership. As for any technical collaboration, more may be coming: Microsoft currently hosts a Web page advertising AnyVision’s products on its business app store.

Funding for that $78 million round also came from other American and European companies, including LightSpeed Venture Partners, Robert Bosch and Qualcomm Ventures.

AnyVision currently extends its services in Moscow, Macau and Hong Kong, countries with a high incidence of human rights violations, according to the UN. It is to be noted that the company’s advisory board is headed by Tamir Pardo, the former chief of Israel’s security department.

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