Microsoft to investigate Israeli facial recognition firm for monitoring Palestinians

Illustrative (Screenshot)

Microsoft hired Holder to look into use of technology by a startup it invested in.

By World Israel News Staff and AP

Microsoft is hiring former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to review its investment in a facial recognition startup that scans faces at Israeli military checkpoints.

Microsoft said in a statement Friday that Holder will lead a team of former federal prosecutors conducting an audit.

Its aim is to determine whether Israeli firm AnyVision’s technology applications comply with Microsoft’s ethical principles against using facial recognition for mass surveillance.

AnyVision announced a $74 million investment in June from a group including Microsoft’s venture capital arm.

The firm and its Microsoft backing attracted public scrutiny as the Israeli military installed face scanners at border crossings where Palestinians enter Israel from Judea and Samaria. Israel needs to monitor border crossings to prevent terrorist infiltration.

NBC reported that AnyVision’s technology was used at border crossings in the same way facial recognition is used at some airports.

AnyVision did not reply to a request for comment from NBC.

The Algemeiner reports that “Microsoft announced facial recognition ethics principles last year, saying the company would ‘advocate for safeguards for people’s democratic freedoms in law enforcement surveillance scenarios and will not deploy facial recognition technology in scenarios that we believe will put these freedoms at risk.’”

Holder served as attorney general under President Barack Obama.

David Isaac: