Former U.S. Attorney General to audit AnyVision for possible violations of Microsoft facial recognition principles
Following reports of a facial recognition surveillance implementation inside the West Bank and an erratic response to a media inquiry, AnyVision is being audited on behalf of Microsoft by a team led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, NBC News reports.
Microsoft has made headlines by positioning itself as a champion of government regulation of facial recognition and releasing principles for responsible use of facial recognition, and also invested in AnyVision’s $74 million Series A funding round this June. Rumors of biometric surveillance deployment for the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) inside of the Palestinian West Bank drew criticism of Microsoft’s position and a statement from AnyVision about its responsibility, and an interview with NBC that turned acrimonious inflamed the controversy.
Other investors in AnyVision include Lightspeed Venture Partners and Qualcomm Ventures.
Now Microsoft has taken the step of hiring law firm Covington & Burling, from which a team of former federal prosecutors led by Holder will investigate AnyVision’s facial recognition deployments.
“They will move quickly, reviewing documents and conducting on the ground interviews with AnyVision employees and others to ensure a full and thorough investigation,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement. The company has also said it will end its relationship with AnyVision if its principles have been violated.
Holder has previously been hired to investigate controversies at Uber and Airbnb.
AnyVision told NBC News that it welcomes the audit, with Chief Commercial Officer Max Constant saying that “(e)thics, privacy and data integrity are the foundational principles upon which our technology and our company were built. We look forward to the audit validating our high standards and continuing to provide a technology for good.”