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Microsoft invests in facial recognition for Israeli checkpoints

In June, Microsoft made a multi-million-dollar investment in AnyVision, whose surveillance technology is used in Israeli checkpoints in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The investment has been condemned by Human Rights Watch.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is calling on Microsoft to withdraw its funding from a company that it says is profiting from the repression of Palestinians.

Technology produced by AnyVision is being installed in checkpoints throughout the West Bank where new ‘identification and inspection stations’ are being constructed.

AnyVision also maintains cameras for the Israeli military inside the West Bank, which are used to survey the local Palestinian population.

Human Rights Watch has also called on Microsoft to review its financing of the company based on the “human rights risk associated with the investment in a company that’s providing [facial recognition] technology to an occupying power.”

AnyVision also supplies technology in Russia and Hong Kong, where human rights abuses have been widespread.

Microsoft’s investment breaks its own principles on face recognition software, BDS has stated, which prohibit “the use of facial recognition technology to engage in unlawful discrimination”. Critics say it is another sign that Microsoft is pushing the technology while promoting itself as taking a more progressive stance than rivals like Amazon and Facebook.

Amazon had also received criticism for allowing its own technologies to be used for the surveillance of migrants in the USA.

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