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Carnegie report says facial recognition and AI surveillance spreading faster than thought



At least 75 countries around the world are actively using artificial intelligence tools such as facial biometrics to conduct surveillance on citizens, according to The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

A new report from the organization says that IBM and Cisco are among the government AI surveillance market’s leaders. The technology is used by autocratic regimes, as well as liberal democracies such as the United States and France.

Major findings include that the spread of AI surveillance technology is much faster and wider than previously understood, with 64 countries actively using facial recognition, 56 implementing smart city systems, and 52 using smart policing technologies. Chinese companies, particularly Huawei, Hikvision, Dahua, and ZTE, supply 63 countries, 36 of which have signed onto China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Huawei supplies 50 countries, which is far more than any other company, with NEC the largest non-Chinese supplier (serving 14 countries).

Just over half of “advanced democracies” use AI surveillance systems, compared to only 37 percent of autocratic states, though the study also notes that that does not necessarily mean the systems are being abused.

The report also indicates that China may be subsidizing repressive technologies by providing soft loans with its technology, and that AI surveillance tools provided by U.S. companies are used in 32 countries.

Loans provided by China to countries such as Kenya and Uganda may be particularly concerning to those who skeptical of Huawei’s denial that it participated in spying on the African Union, as Quartz reports.

The market for professional video surveillance is expected to grow from $18.2 billion in 2018 to $19.9 billion this year, boosted by both government investments and private sector crime prevention and business intelligence projects.

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