Microsoft Corp has hired former US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether the use of facial recognition technology developed by an Israeli startup it funded complies with its ethics principles, the company said on Friday.
AnyVision, based outside Tel Aviv, has come under scrutiny following reports by Haaretz's TheMarker business newspaper and NBC News that its technology is used to surveil Palestinians who live in the occupied West Bank, Reuters said.
AnyVision, which denied to NBC such use of its services, did not respond to a request for comment.
Microsoft announced facial recognition ethics principles last year, saying the company would "advocate for safeguards for people's democratic freedoms in law enforcement surveillance scenarios and will not deploy facial recognition technology in scenarios that we believe will put these freedoms at risk."
NBC had reported that AnyVision's technology was used within the West Bank and at Israeli border crossings. The company told NBC its software was not used for West Bank surveillance and was deployed at border crossings in a manner similar to US Customs' use of biometric identification at airports.