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Facial recognition debate flares up in Israel and continues in UK and Australia


Cameras deep inside the Palestinian West Bank with facial recognition from Israeli biometrics company AnyVision allow authorities in Israel to identify and surveil, Haaretz reports.

AnyVision’s technology is also deployed to checkpoints operated by the Israeli army at border crossings. The Israeli Defense Force said earlier this year that 27 checkpoints would be upgraded with biometric technology. A second implementation, however, is more confidential, according to Haaretz, and likely more controversial.

Facial biometrics are also implemented to “cameras deep inside the West Bank try to spot and monitor potential Palestinian assailants.”

AnyVision closed a $74 million Series A funding round last month.

Home Secretary backs UK police trials

As legal challenges to trials of live facial recognition technology by UK police progress, and criticism mounts, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has made public statements in support of the trials, saying police need to use the latest technology, the BBC reports.

“I back the police in looking at technology and trialing it and… different types of facial recognition technology is being trialed especially by the Met at the moment and I think it’s right they look at that,” he said.

Speaking at the launch of new digital tools for police to investigate online child abuse, Javid also acknowledged that extending the use of the technology would require legislation.

Australian law enforcement deployments compared to China

Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) is calling on Australians to reject the use of biometric facial recognition for public surveillance in the country, and compared it to the repressive tactics of Chinese authorities in Xinjiang.

In a response to a television report on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners, which showed universities, researchers, and technology companies in the country are actively working with oppressive regimes to use facial recognition against vulnerable groups, according to EFA Chair Lyndsey Jackson.

The EFA accuses Queensland Police of using facial recognition for general policing immediately after a deployment during the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, which was justified on terrorism-prevention grounds. It does not note that the deployment identified five people out of 268, and then only after the scope of the application was changed. The organization also notes that Perth council is planning its own trial, despite opposition from residents.

EFA also expressed concern with the government’s plans for a federal facial recognition system, called “The Capability.”

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