Many civil liberties organizations have long asserted that facial recognition software could have a disparate impact on minorities. If that sounds like a stretch, consider the revelation that Chinese telecom giant Huawei and several other major Chinese tech firms developed software for that country’s ubiquitous facial recognition system to identity and track people with Uighur origins, the Turkic Muslim people in that country’s far west.
The independent research and watchdog group, IPVM, reports that Huawei inadvertently posted documents revealing its racist software in an online corporate interoperability report. In reaction, Antoine Griezmann, a major French soccer star and Huawei brand ambassador cut his ties to Huawei. A senior Huawei executive in Denmark has also resigned in protest.
This revelation reminds us of the ubiquitous nature of surveillance in China, and the potential for misuse of technology in our own country.