In May 2023, international human rights organisation Amnesty International published a report ‘Automated Apartheid’, which revealed that the Israeli authorities are using an experimental facial recognition system known as ‘Red Wolf’ to track Palestinians and impose restrictions on their movement. Amnesty has demanded that the government cease the surveillance as part of the necessary steps to end apartheid in the region.
“In both Hebron and occupied East Jerusalem, facial recognition technology supports a dense network of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras to keep Palestinians under near-constant observation. Automated Apartheid shows how this surveillance is part of a deliberate attempt by Israeli authorities to create a hostile and coercive environment for Palestinians, with the aim of minimizing their presence in strategic areas,” Amnesty International noted.
The arbitrary use of facial recognition technologies by law enforcement agencies in different countries, including India, has raised concerns about ‘surveillance states’ and infringement upon people’s privacy and freedom of movement. Here, we see an explicit example where facial recognition is being used to discriminate against a specific community. Amnesty International has previously called for a global ban on the development, sale and use of facial recognition technology for surveillance purposes.
Not just Red Wolf, there are other systems too that the Israeli government is using to surveil Palestinian citizens and exacerbate the impact of such policing and surveillance activities on people’s right to privacy, equality, and non-discrimination.
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