Daily Management Review

Alibaba Claims Its Tech Won’t Be Used For Target And Identify Ethnic Groups


Alibaba Claims Its Tech Won’t Be Used For Target And Identify Ethnic Groups
Recent reports about Alibaba Cloud developed facial recognition technology, which is also able to identify people on the basis of their ethnicity and is used as an attribute for tagging video imagery, was tagged in reports that claimed the technology was used to screen and identify Uighur Muslims of China/, were described as  dismaying by Alibaba, in a statement on Thursday.
The Chinese tech giant also reiterated that its facial recognition technology was never intended to be used ion the manner that it has reported to have been used.
Reacting to the report, Alibaba Group has said that the facial recognition technology developed it will never be allowed to be used for targeting and identifying specific ethnic groups, referring to the reports about the tech being used to target Uighur minorities in China.
"We have eliminated any ethnic tag in our product offering," Alibaba said.
Alibaba's Cloud Shield content moderation service for websites contained software that is capable of identifying Uighurs, claimed the United States based IPVM in its investigative report that was made public on Wednesday.
The port on the technology and its usage in China was preceded in recent times by accusations by several human rights groups against Chinese authorities of putting into labour camps more than one million Uighurs Muslins of China by force and has been using them in forced labour in the country. The groups also identified and called out companies that they suspect of colluding with Chinese authorities supressing the Uighurs Muslins.
Close to the time that it was set to publish its report, the mention of Uighurs in the software disappeared from Alibaba's Cloud Shield, IPVM said. The organization said that it had been informed by Alibaba that this facial recognition feature has only been put to use "in a testing environment".
Its Cloud Shield was described by Alibaba as a system that "detects and recognises text, pictures, videos, and voices containing pornography, politics, violent terrorism, advertisements, and spam, and provides verification, marking, custom configuration and other capabilities."
The facial recognition technology of the Chinese company can perform such tasks as "glasses inspection", "smile detection", whether the subject is "ethnic" and, specifically, "Is it Uighur", IPVM said citing an archived record of the technology.
In the case of a livestreaming video being done by a Uighuron a website signed up to Cloud Shield, the facial recognition technology of Alibaba which is loaded on the Cloud Shield has the ability to detect whether the user of the livestreaming was an Uighur or not and consequently identify and flag the video for review or removal, said IPVM researcher Charles Rollet.
Refuting the charges against it over the Uighurs Muslim issue, the Chinese government has reiterated that it was not forcing anyone into what it has called vocational training centres. Beijing has also said that there is a threat of Islamist militantency in the region of Xinjiang.