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Israel Created Database of Palestinians Using Mass Facial Recognition Technology

Using Google Photos the Israeli Army enhanced the facial recognition technology of Corsight AI which was made to identify Hamas associated people

The Israeli military has been indulging in mass facial recognition of Palestinians along the Gaza Strip ever since the October 7 Hamas attack, according to an article published in the Verge. Although the facial recognition technology developed by Tel Aviv-based company Corsight AI is meant to identify and target Hamas, several Palestinians have fallen victim to it.

According to the report, Corsight has said its facial recognition technology can identify people even when less than half of their face is revealed. The Israel Army has used it to create a database of Palestinians often asking Palestinian prisoners to identify people from security camera footage installed in various road checkpoints along which Palestinians were travelling. However, Corsight AI wasn’t accurate and misidentified people so the Israeli Defense Forces replaced Corsight images with free images of “known persons” from Google Photos to develop the mass facial recognition technology. 

Earlier in May 2023, an Amnesty International report highlighted how Israel is using ‘Red Wolf’ facial recognition technology to curb the rights of Palestinians. Reports also came out in November about Adobe selling AI-generated images of the Israel-Hamas war. 

How did Israel develop the mass facial recognition technology?

The VERGE report further explains how Israel developed this strategy from social media videos and security footage of Hamas after the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. The primary agenda behind this was to create a “hit list” of individuals connected to Hamas, said a military official. However, many mistaken identifications like that of the Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha came up as a result of Corsight AI inaccuracy. In this particular case, Toha was beaten and interrogated for two days despite having no affiliation with Hamas. However, Google Photos solved the problem as it identified people with minimal visible facial features, revealed an officer. 

Aaron Ashkenazi, founder of Corsight’s lead investor Awz Ventures, wrote that his fund provides Israel “the technological tools to stop these evil terrorists in their tracks.” Most companies in Awz’s portfolio are AI and cybersecurity firms catering to military applications. In October last year, Corsight AI was useful in recognizing trauma victims from photos provided by families in hospitals in Israel during the Gaza war.

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