Synesis to appeal EU sanctions over misuse of its facial recognition software
Belarusian biometrics company Synesis is getting its day in court. According to Intelligence Online, the firm will get a hearing before the EU Court of Justice, to fight sanctions imposed on it for allegedly using its facial recognition technology to repress protests against President Alexander Lukashenko in August 2020.
Synesis has spent 18 months pushing for the appeal. During that time, the company also faced heat from the U.S. Treasury Department for supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and claims from former employees who say they worked on software that uses facial recognition algorithms to identify protestors. Synesis calls the allegations unfounded, saying that their technology “could not be used to identify” protestors.
Surveillance is extensive in Belarus, where Synesis’ Kipod facial recognition software is connected to nearly 13,000 cameras across the country. Kipod uses machine learning algorithms to record and analyze face biometric data.
Synesis’ CEO, Alexander Shatrov (sometimes spelled Shatrou), also faces sanctions for his alleged role in enabling law enforcement to use Kipod to quell peaceful protests. The company, headquartered in Minsk but with close ties to Shatrov’s native Russia, was making a push into the global biometrics market when it was hit with the EU sanctions.
In addition to Belarus, Kipod is also used in Moscow’s subway system, and at some petrol stations in Ireland and the UK.