Microsoft is hiring former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder to provide legal window dressing for their AnyVision technology, which the company says complies with the ethical principles stipulated during the facial recognition company's Series A.
Olivia Solon at NBC News reports that AnyVision's technology has powered a secret military surveillance project that has been monitoring Palestinians in the West Bank.
Eric Holder will lend his name and credibility to this obvious abuse of human rights.
From Olivia Solon's reporting for NBC News:
Microsoft's venture capital arm, M12, invested in AnyVision as part of a $74 million Series A funding round in June. Under the terms of the deal, Microsoft stipulated that AnyVision should comply with its six ethical principles to guide its facial recognition work: fairness, transparency, accountability, nondiscrimination, notice and consent, and lawful surveillance.
The last principle states, "We will advocate for safeguards for people's democratic freedoms in law enforcement surveillance scenarios and will not deploy facial recognition technology in scenarios that we believe will put these freedoms at risk."
AnyVision, headquartered in Israel, sells an "advanced tactical surveillance" software system, Better Tomorrow. It lets customers identify individuals and objects in any live camera feed, such as a security camera or smartphone, and then track targets as they move between different feeds.
Axios rounds it up like this:
AnyVision's "advanced tactical surveillance" software powered a project that covertly monitored Palestinians in the West Bank, for which the company won an Israeli defense prize in 2018, per NBC. Human rights activists have rallied against the company for that project.
What they're saying: "AnyVision's facial recognition technology is not being used for surveillance in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, and AnyVision would not allow its technology to be used for that purpose," the company told NBC News in October.
BREAKING via @oliviasolon
Microsoft hires Eric Holder to audit AnyVision over use of facial recognition on Palestinianshttps://t.co/t9f7ksfLHS
— Cyrus Farivar (@cfarivar) November 15, 2019
Today Microsoft told me it has hired former AG Eric Holder to investigate facial recognition company AnyVision to check its technology is only being used in ways that comply with Microsoft's ethical principles https://t.co/SwNhBwX7lM
— Olivia Solon (@oliviasolon) November 15, 2019