A Chinese surveillance company with eyes on the US market has fallen under scrutiny after researchers found software code that appears to enable ethnic profiling of China’s Uygur minority using artificial intelligence.
Zhejiang Dahua Technology is one of several Chinese AI and surveillance companies that was barred from importing US technology over its purported role in targeting Uygurs, a predominantly Muslim minority in the country’s western Xinjiang region. Despite this, Dahua has been pushing to expand in the US this year, with a rebranding effort last month and a deal with Amazon in April.
One of the functions of the code seems to be AI recognition in video feeds, which includes recognising people and related attributes, according to software security engineer Serge Bazanski, also known as q3k, who made the discovery. Identifiable characteristics in the code include a section for ethnicity, with Uygur as the only ethnicity classified by name.
When asked about the code, Dahua denied that it was selling the ability to identify people by ethnicity.