Chinese tech giant From Alibaba Group Holdings Inc. (NYSE: BABA) facial recognition software can track the ethnic Uyghur minority group in China. The claim is based on a report by surveillance analysis firm IPVM in conjunction with The New York Times.
What happened: IPVM’s report quoted excerpts from Alibaba’s Cloud Shield API Guide describing the surveillance capabilities of the facial recognition software. The earlier version of API guides, last updated in May 2019, contained specific entries from the Uyghur minority and a guide on how to use the synchronous and asynchronous detection recognition tool.
The New York Times report on the subject further claimed that the facial recognition software was codified to track digital content and scan specific facial features. China uses other modes, such as a wider trawl for surveillance and genetic testing to track the minority group.
The Times quoted a statement from an Alibaba cloud spokesperson as saying that “the ethnicity listing refers to a feature / function used in a test environment while exploring our technical capabilities” and that it was not implemented “outside the test environment. . “
Why does it matter?: Since news of contention with the Uyghur community broke out, according to Reuters, Chinese companies suspected of being complicit have been singled out.
Both the IPVM and New York Times reports claim that after reaching out to Alibaba for a response, the tech company edited parts of its website to remove references to Uyghur and minority faces.
An archived record of the technology shows that it can detect glasses inspection, “smile detection,” whether the subject is “ethnic” and, in particular, “Is it Uyghurs,” Reuters notes.
In June of this year Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT), Amazon Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), ed IBM Corporation (NYSE: IBM) voluntarily chose not to sell facial recognition software to the US police. Microsoft President Brad Smith at the time expressed the need for a humane national law governing the use of this technology.
Price action: BABA stock closed 2.66% higher on Wednesday at $ 261.89.
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