While the phone giant denied having developed facial recognition that discriminates against the Xinjiang minority repressed by power in China, ethnic targeting is mentioned in a 2018 patent.

Huawei has successfully filed a patent for technology to identify people of Uighur descent, says BBC, based on the survey ofIPVM, investigative media specializing in video surveillance. The Chinese telephony giant, which had denied developing facial recognition software with a “Uighur alarm” after the revelations of Washington post in December 2020, “Plans to modify” the patent, continues the British media.

In the province of Xinjiang in northwest China, the Uighur minority has been the victim of violent repression for years. The Chinese regime is accused by the international community of forcing the Muslim minority populations of Xinjiang province to forced labor in camps.

In December, footballer Antoine Griezmann broke his advertising contract with Huawei, denouncing the “Strong suspicions” that weighed on the company that would have developed a “Uighur alert”. Huawei then kicked in touch, talking about a simple test.

The patent filed by Huawei in 2018 discovered by IPVM describes the use of “Deep learning techniques in artificial intelligence to identify various characteristics of pedestrians photographed or filmed in the street”, and lists the criteria for targeting individuals including “The race (Han [le plus grand groupe ethnique en Chine], Uighur) ”.

A spokesperson for the Chinese group, acknowledging that this “Reference should not have been included”, stated that “Huawei opposes all discrimination” and that the group took all measures to modify the project: “Identifying the race of individuals has never been part of the research and development project” and “Should never have been part of the application”.

Ethnic discrimination technology

IPVM also updated other references to Uighurs in patents filed by Sensetime and Megvii, two Chinese companies specializing in AI and facial recognition. As for Alibaba and Baidu, two other Chinese tech giants, IPVM also found facial recognition patents not specifically mentioning Uighurs but which “Classify individuals by their ethnicity”.