From NBC News: Microsoft funded firm doing secret Israeli surveillance on West Bank
Microsoft committed to protecting democratic freedoms. Then it funded an Israeli facial recognition firm that secretly watched West Bank Palestinians.
From the article:
In June, Microsoft’s venture capital arm M12 announced it would invest in AnyVision as part of a $74 million Series A funding round, along with Silicon Valley venture capital firm DFJ. The deal sparked criticism from human rights activists who argued — as Forbes reported — that the investment was incompatible with Microsoft’s public statements about ethical standards for facial recognition technology.
AnyVision (...) has close ties to Israel’s military and intelligence services. It counts former head of Mossad Tamir Pardo among its board of advisers. Amir Kain, who was director of the Defense Ministry’s security department from 2007 to 2015, is AnyVision’s president. Several current employees did their national military service at elite cyberspy agency Unit 8200, equivalent to the NSA or the United Kingdom's GCHQ.
The company’s core product is designed to pick out the faces of multiple suspects in a large crowd, monitor crowd density and track and categorize different types of vehicles, according to promotional materials. AnyVision has described this system as “nonvoluntary” because individuals do not need to enroll to be detected automatically. The company claims to have deployed its technology across more than 115,000 cameras.
So it's reassuring to see that this potentially incriminating system is in this guys hands:
When NBC News first approached AnyVision for an interview, CEO Eylon Etshtein denied any knowledge of "Google Ayosh," threatened to sue NBC News and said that AnyVision was the “most ethical company known to man.” He disputed that the West Bank was “occupied” and questioned the motivation of the NBC News inquiry, suggesting the reporter must have been funded by a Palestinian activist group.