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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

Israel secretly using facial recognition technology to identify potential targets

Reports from The New York Times reveal that Israel has been using facial recognition technology in the Gaza Strip, even going ahead to create a database of Palestinian individuals without their explicit consent or awareness.

The program, initiated following the October 7th Hamas attack on Israel, leverages technology from Google Photos alongside a specialized tool developed by Tel Aviv-based company Corsight to identify individuals associated with Hamas.

It is said that after the attack Israel soldiers worked to identify perpetrators by watching security camera footage and videos Hamas had uploaded to social media. They also had Palestinian prisoners identify people from their communities who were affiliated with Gaza.

It is at this point that Corsight stepped in, using the photos to build facial a recognition software. The Israeli military then proceded to strategically place cameras equipped with this technology along major roads used by Palestinians to flee south.

According to Corsight, their technology can accurately identify people even with half their face visible. However, soldiers speaking to The Times pointed out that the software was less than reliable especially when dealing with grainy footages.

There were several cases of mistaken identity including one involving Mosab Abu Toha, a Palestinian poet who was trying to flee the war with his family. The poet was detained, interrogated, and beaten before he was released with no explanation given.

Corsight's application extends beyond military use, with reports indicating its deployment in Israeli hospitals to identify patients, particularly those with facial trauma. According to a Forbes report, Corsight’s technology was able to take images of people “whose features had been impacted by physical trauma, and find a match amongst photos sent in by concerned family members.”

The company's focus primarily revolves around government, law enforcement, and military applications, boasting capabilities such as identifying masked faces and exploring advancements like facial models based on DNA.


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