SenseTime drops plans for UK HQ to expand international face biometrics operations
SenseTime has an estimated worth of £6 billion (roughly US$7 billion), and had been looking into opening a European headquarter after being placed on a restricted list by the Trump administration. The Entity List bans several major Chinese biometrics companies from buying American products, having them in their supply chain, or maintaining relations with U.S. companies. The allegations SenseTime’s facial recognition technology has been used in human rights violations made it postpone its international expansion plans.
The company’s biometric technology processes information collected by China’s CCTV surveillance system and by systems used in law enforcement.
“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 [Xinjiang],” declared the U.S. Department of Commerce at the time.
SenseTime denied involvement in the Xinjiiang government’s extensive surveillance and detention programs.
“SenseTime was not, and never will be, involved in the so-called racial profiling. We’re deeply disappointed with the US accusation. We believe it reflects a misunderstanding of our company and will work with all relevant authorities to fully understand and resolve the situation,” the company said in a prepared statement. “We are a young company working in a rapidly changing and dynamic area of technology. We are dedicated to engaging with our global stakeholders to ensure that they understand our vision and the responsible way we apply AI technology.”
Hikvision, another Chinese AI company included on the list, already has a CCTV system network used by councils in the UK.
Another Chinese company looking at setting up an office in London is TikTok, after the U.S. said it was considering banning the app. While Microsoft is evaluating buying the company, 20 lawsuits alleging biometric data privacy violations are already ongoing.