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Alibaba ‘Dismayed’ Over Ethnic Profiling in Facial Recognition Technology


Alibaba Group Holding, in a statement Thursday, said it would not allow any of its technology to be used for targeting specific ethnic groups.

What Happened: The Chinese e-commerce giant’s comments come in the aftermath of a report from surveillance industry researcher IPVM that claimed Alibaba’s facial recognition technology was capable of specifically identifying people from China’s Uighur ethnic minority.

“Racial or ethnic discrimination or profiling in any form violates Alibaba’s policies and values,” the Jack Ma-led company said in a statement.

Alibaba added it was “dismayed” to learn that its cloud unit developed the technology in a testing environment “that included ethnicity as an algorithm attribute for tagging video imagery.”

The tech giant said it had eliminated any ethnic tag from its product offering. Alibaba claimed the technology was in a trial phase and never deployed by any customer.

Why It Matters: China has long faced allegations of oppressing the Uighur minority.

A Washington Post report in February noted that China has held over one million Uighurs in what the publication described as “indoctrination camps” for over two years.

Concerns over ethics have been raised over the use of facial recognition technology by authorities around the world.

Microsoft,, and IBM earlier this year either restricted the availability of their facial recognition technology to authorities or discontinued such projects entirely for the time being.

Price Action: Alibaba shares closed 0.97{f08ff3a0ad7db12f5b424ba38f473ff67b97b420df338baa81683bbacd458fca} higher at $264.43 on Thursday and were mostly unchanged in the after-hours session.

This story originally appeared on Benzinga.

© 2020 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

Visual China Group via Getty Images

Benzinga, China, facial recognition


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