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Unflattering spotlight grows brighter on Chinese biometric surveillance firms

Unflattering spotlight grows brighter on Chinese biometric surveillance firms

The pressure campaign to get Chinese facial recognition firm Tiandy Technologies on a sanctions or export control list has not waned.

A U.S. pro-democracy group has issued a lengthy memo making the case that, while other Chinese biometric technology companies have been sanctioned in some way by Washington, Tiandy has not.

Other Western economies, notably Canada and the United Kingdom, also should strongly consider punishing or at least disengaging from the company, according to the memo.

The author of the document, Craig Singleton, a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, makes the case at length that Tiandy is controlled by China’s authoritarian Communist Party. And it is the party that has designed unquestionably anti-democratic policies including the repression of political and cultural minorities.

Singleton, like others, alleges that not only is China using facial recognition dragnets to find and imprison its Muslim Uyghur population, it is involved in making tools for torture.

Singleton also documents sales of Tiandy’s CCTV cameras and surveillance software to Iran, another oppressive anti-democratic regime, currently battling to erase opposition to top-down religious edicts.

According to a number of sources (including the foundation and reporting by national news outlet U.S. NBC and industry research group IPVM), U.S. chipmaker Intel sells microprocessors to Tiandy.

Singleton wants Tiandy, its owner and stakeholders sanctioned according to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act because evidence indicates that the company is directly or indirectly engaged in “serious human rights abuse.”

Iran should feel the heat, too, he says, citing a presidential executive order calling for sanctions on anyone who uses communications and IT systems that monitor or track people as part of human rights abuses.

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