Wednesday, November 30

Ukraine uses controversial facial recognition technology to detect Russian spies


Ukraine is using systems facial recognition to discover Russian soldiers on its territory and identify dead bodies. Since this Saturday, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense uses the services of Clearview AIa controversial American company denounced for violating the right to privacy of citizens.

The executive director of this technology company has confirmed to Reuters that at the beginning of the Russian military invasion he offered his services to Kiev and that he would have started using them this past weekend, something that the Ukrainian authorities have not confirmed.

Clearview AI has a database of up to 10 billion images of people from all over the world, extracted without their consent from social networks and platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Youtube. This database allows the algorithmic system that operates in its smart cameras to identify, with greater or lesser precision, these people.

Its CEO, Hoan Ton Thatexplained to Reuters that they could access more than 2,000 million images of VKontaktea popular Russian social network similar to Facebook, to help Ukraine identify Russian agents and spies on its territory, as well as dead bodies or to speed up the meeting of refugees separated from their families. It is unknown what use Kiev will make of it. However, its use is not exact and experts warn that failures in facial identification on the war front can lead to the death of civilians, as well as arbitrary arrests.

dystopian vigilance

The activities of Clearview AI were practically a secret until the New York Times uncovered its operation in January 2020, a scandal that accentuated the debate about the dangers to Privacy of citizens and their perpetual surveillance that facial recognition systems entail. “I’ve come to the conclusion that because information is constantly increasing, there’s never going to be privacy. Laws have to determine what’s legal, but you can’t ban technology. Sure, that could lead to a dystopian future or something.” like that, but you can’t ban it,” David Scalzo, an investor in the company, confessed in that article.

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That controversy hasn’t stopped Clearview AI from being used by law enforcement agencies like the FBI wave police of New York to identify criminal suspects, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Another investor in this facial recognition system is Peter Thielconservative billionaire, self-confessed anti-democrat and close to donald trump which has also pushed similar technologies like Palantir. This opaque company has also suffered significant security breaches.

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Clearview IA already made headlines last Wednesday when the Italian data protection agency fined it $20 million for violating European laws by using millions of images that European citizens post on social media without your consent so that your clients, especially the police, can use them to compare identities. He also ordered him to delete all the photos of his citizens, something that companies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter have also denounced, but to no avail.

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