Sunday, May 31, 2020 | Last Update : 07:09 PM IST

68th Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra65168280812197 Tamil Nadu2024611313157 Delhi173877846398 Gujarat1635692321007 Rajasthan83654855184 Madhya Pradesh78914444343 Uttar Pradesh77014651213 West Bengal48131775302 Andhra Pradesh3461228960 Bihar3359120915 Karnataka292299749 Telangana2499141277 Jammu and Kashmir234190828 Punjab2197194942 Odisha17239779 Haryana172194019 Kerala120957510 Assam9361044 Uttarakhand493794 Jharkhand4621914 Chhatisgarh4471021 Chandigarh2891994 Tripura2711720 Himachal Pradesh223634 Goa70420 Manipur6060 Puducherry57230 Nagaland3600 Meghalaya27121 Arunachal Pradesh310 Mizoram110 Sikkim100

Microsoft to stop funding facial recognition startups, divests from firm whose tech is used by Israeli military

AP
Published : Mar 28, 2020, 2:27 pm IST
Updated : Mar 28, 2020, 2:27 pm IST

As a minority investor, Microsoft does not have enough oversight to ensure that the startup’s tech is not used for mass surveillance

In this representative image, commuters walk through ticket gates equipped with facial recognition systems at a metro station in Moscow on January 27, 2020. (Photo | AFP)
 In this representative image, commuters walk through ticket gates equipped with facial recognition systems at a metro station in Moscow on January 27, 2020. (Photo | AFP)

Redmond: Microsoft said Friday it is pulling its investments from a facial-recognition startup that scans faces at Israeli military checkpoints, even though the tech giant couldn't substantiate claims that the startup's technology is used unethically.

Microsoft late last year hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to lead a team of lawyers to audit Israeli firm AnyVision.

AnyVision had announced a $74 million investment in June from a group including Microsoft's venture capital arm. The firm and its Microsoft backing attracted public scrutiny as the Israeli military installed face scanners at border crossings where Palestinians enter Israel from the West Bank.

Holder's team was asked in October to determine whether AnyVision's technology applications comply with Microsoft's ethical principles against using facial recognition for mass surveillance. Microsoft and AnyVision jointly announced Friday that the audit didn't substantiate any breach of Microsoft's principles.

A statement from the Washington-based law firm Covington & Burling, where Holder works, said that available evidence “demonstrates that AnyVision's technology has not previously and does not currently power a mass surveillance program in the West Bank that has been alleged in media reports.” The law firm said the audit included a review of accounting records and a site visit to AnyVision’s facilities in Holon, Israel.

But Microsoft also said Friday it is still divesting its stake in the startup, and will stop making minority investments in companies that sell facial-recognition technology.

The company based in Redmond, Washington, said that the audit underscored the challenges of being a minority investor in a company selling sensitive technology because it may not have enough oversight or control over how the technology is used.

AnyVision has previously said its technology is used at border crossings similarly to how facial recognition is used at some airports.

Tags: microsoft, facial recognition, israeli military, anyvision, divestment, surveillance cameras