Another Chinese facial recognition company has been added to a US government blacklist over its alleged involvement in human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region. The company in question, DeepGlint, has “deep ties to Chinese police surveillance”, according to The Verge.
DeepGlint is one of 14 Chinese companies that have been added to the economic blacklist, effectively barring American suppliers from doing business with them. In an announcement, the US Department of Commerce indicated that the companies had been blacklisted over their involvement in government oppression of “Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.”
China’s abuses in the Xinjiang region have come under intensifying scrutiny in recent years, with reports emerging of prison camps and extremely intrusive surveillance. Major tech companies – most notably Huawei and Alibaba – have faced allegations of involvement in these government efforts, and some (including Huawei) have wound up on the US blacklist as a result.
In landing on the list, DeepGlint joins other facial recognition companies including SenseTime and Megvii, whose biometric technology appears to have been used – or at least tested – in a surveillance system designed specifically to monitor Uyghurs. DeepGlint worked with Chinese authorities to establish a facial recognition R&D lab in Xinjiang’s capital in 2018.
The company has performed well in the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Face Recognition Vendor Test, and has received backing from Sequoia Capital – perhaps the most well-known and respected venture capital firm in Silicon Valley.
Chines authorities have broadly denied the allegations concerning abuses in Xinjiang, and indicated that they consider the blacklist additions to be violations of international trade rules.
July 12, 2021 – by Alex Perala