Chinese internet giant Alibaba uses IPVM facial recognition software to recognize images of Uyghurs posted on the internet, according to video surveillance researcher.
The US IPVM says it was in the code of Alibaba’s CloudShield. This is used to track down prohibited material.
Uyghurs are a Muslim minority in Xinjiang Province who are persecuted by the Chinese government. More than 1 million Uyghurs are in prison camps where they have to work for little or no money. According to China, no one is involuntarily in what the country calls re-education camps.
In China, many internet companies, including Alibaba, practice strict self-censorship to prevent government action.
CloudShield is used by many Chinese websites to detect political, pornographic or violent content, for example. The system could also see whether a user is wearing glasses, smiling or whether someone is Uyghur.
Image material that Uighurs upload would immediately have a flag to investigate further for prohibited content. Alibaba has stated that the software has been used as a test only and is not included in the use version of the software.