Human Rights Watch Clears Megvii in Investigation of Biometric Surveillance App

Human Rights Watch Clears Megvii in Investigation of Surveillance App

Megvii has been exonerated in an investigation into human rights violations in China. The New York-based Human Rights Watch previously uncovered Megvii code in a government surveillance app being used to monitor the Uyghur muslims in Xinjiang back in May. However, the same organization is now reporting that the code was “inoperable,” and that Megvii “seems not to have collaborated” with the development and deployment of the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP) app.

Based out of Hong Kong, Megvii is the developer of the Face++ facial recognition platform, and has emerged as one of the industry’s biggest unicorns in the past few years. The recent controversy does not seem to have diminished its prospects, with the company raising $750 million in a funding round that was announced in the wake of the initial HRW report.

The amended report should give those investors more confidence ahead of a rumored July IPO. Megvii has consistently denied any involvement in the IJOP app, which collects personal information and flags suspicious individuals for police investigation. While Face++ code was present in IJOP, Face++ connects to platforms that are accessible to the public so the code could have made its way into the app even if it was never utilized.

For its part, Megvii has stated that its technology should not be used for illegal activities or ethnic profiling. The news may help ease some of the growing tension between the US and China after the blacklisting of Huawei due to national security concerns in the US.

Source: South China Morning Post    

June 10, 2019 – by Eric Weiss