Taiwan to investigate biometrics company Megvii following U.S. blacklisting

Taiwan to investigate biometrics company Megvii following U.S. blacklisting

After Chinese biometrics company Megvii was blacklisted by the U.S. government last week, Taiwan Economics Minister Sheng Jong-chin announced at a hearing of the Legislative Yuan’s Economic Committee that Taiwan is now also looking into reviewing the company, after it received a contract to implement a facial recognition security system at Taichung Power Plant, writes Focus Taiwan.

The Minister’s announcement came after national security concerns were raised at the meeting by a legislator of the New Power Party. Megvii is one of the 28 biometrics companies added to the U.S. government’s Entity List for alleged involvement in human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang region.

Megvii’s technology is used to monitor the time and attendance of contractors, but not power company employees, entering and leaving the power plant, according to the report. It says that on Sept. 12, the tech unicorn won a contract to install a facial recognition security system at Taichung Power Plant to keep track of contractors’ activity in the power plant.

Megvii told Biometric Update in an email that it “is not part of the Taichung Power Plant project.”

It added that Asia Pacific Telecom, the winner of the bid and now responsible for the Taichung Power Plant project, have told local media that the technology used is from a South Korean company, and not from Megvii.

On October 14, the Legislative Yuan questioned the Hon Hai Group and Asia Pacific Telecom about the Taipower Power Plant project and the use of facial recognition, according to a kcaijin.com report, as translated by Google. Asia Pacific Telecom confirmed the technology used is based on South Korean facial recognition technology and meets all Taipower review specifications.

According to Shen, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA)’s State-Owned Enterprise Commission will immediately begin a thorough investigation of the companies included on the Entity List, including Hikvision Digital Technology, Dahua Technology, iFlytek, Megvii Technology, SenseTime, Xiamen Meiya Pico Information, and Yitu Technologies.

“These entities have been implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in the XUAR,” reads the statement issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

This post was updated on October 22 at 8:13 Eastern time to include clarifying remarks from Megvii and Asia Pacific Telecom.

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