US Department of Commerce adds Chinese facial recognition firms to ban list

The US Department of Commerce (DoC) has added 28 Chinese entities to the ‘entity list’ which prohibits American companies from engaging in business with them. The addition includes 20 Chinese public security bureaus and 8 companies such as video surveillance firm Hikvision and facial recognition technology companies SenseTime Group Ltd and Megvii Technology Ltd. The DoC argues that these entities are enabling activities contrary to the US foreign policy, specifically by being ‘implicated in human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region’. Commenting on the DoC decision, SenseTime said that it respects all relevant laws in the countries where it operates and it is developing an artificial intelligence (AI) code of ethics to ensure its technologies are used responsibly. Megvii also reacted by stating that is strongly objected to being placed on the ban list, noting that it requires clients not to use the company’s technology for illegal purposes.