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Palestinian Academic and Scientific Organizations Call to Cut Ties With AnyVision-Sponsored Workshop

Palestinians urge international scholars and institutions not to lend support to workshop organized with Israeli facial recognition technology firm directly involved in Israel's crimes against Palestinians.

We, the undersigned Palestinian academic, scientific and research organizations, call on international academics and academic institutions to refrain from participating in or supporting in any way the “Fair Face Recognition and Analysis” workshop at the 2020 European Conference on Computer Vision and the associated “Looking at People Fair Face Recognition” challenge.

The workshop, which will be held online on 28 August, and the challenge are being organized together with AnyVision, an Israeli facial recognition technology company directly involved in Israel's crimes against Palestinians.

AnyVision works hand in hand with the Israeli military, providing technology to spy on and surveil Palestinians living under Israel’s decades-long military occupation and oppressive apartheid regime.

AnyVision provides its facial recognition technology for Israeli military checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel’s network of military checkpoints deny Palestinians our right to freedom of movement, separate Palestinian cities and towns from one another and serve to monitor, surveil and collect data on Palestinians. 

Any vision also maintains surveillance cameras for the Israeli military deep inside the occupied West Bank. AnyVision’s technology is used to spy on Palestinians and enables the Israeli military’s illegal targeting of Palestinian civilians. AnyVision, which is led by veteran Israeli military and intelligence personnel, is able to market its technology as “field-tested” on Palestinians.

Last March, Microsoft announced that it would divest from AnyVision, following investigative reporting calling into question its investment in the company and a global advocacy campaign led by Jewish Voice for Peace in the US and a wide coalition of human rights and civil liberties organizations.

Public calls for a comprehensive ban on facial recognition technology are increasing due to the technology’s inherent invasiveness, its use by police and military forces in dragnet-style surveillance, racial profiling and targeting of activists, and its disproportionate impact on Black and Brown communities.

Major companies, including IBMAmazon and Microsoft, have recently pulled back from the technology over these concerns.

The AnyVision sponsored workshop purports to examine “bias analysis and mitigation methodologies” to create “more fair face recognition and analysis systems.”

We are alarmed to see European universities, including the University of Barcelona, the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the Open University of Catalonia, as well as international academics involved in a workshop clearly aimed at rehabilitating AnyVision’s image as well as that of facial recognition technology in general.

As Palestinian scholars, scientists and researchers forced to confront Israeli oppression on a daily basis, we call on:

  • the European Conference on Computer Vision ECCV’20 not to host the “Fair Face Recognition and Analysis” workshop;

  • the University of Barcelona, the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the Open University of Catalonia to withdraw support from the “Fair Face Recognition and Analysis” workshop;

  • invited speakers to withdraw their participation in the workshop;

  • international academics to refrain from participating in the “Fair Face Recognition and Analysis” workshop and the related “Looking at People Fair Face Recognition” challenge sponsored by AnyVision.

We reiterate the authoritative call from Palestinian civil society to end all ties with AnyVision.

Signed:

Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE), representing more than 6,000 Palestinian university staff at 13 institutions of higher education in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Palestine Academy for Science and Technology (PalAST), a national institution that functions as an umbrella for a number of projects and innovations aiming at the advancement of science, technology and innovation in Palestine, including:

  • Palestinian Mathematical Society

  • Palestinian Physics Society (PPS)

  • Palestinian Chemical Society

  • Palestinian Biological Society

  • Palestinian Plant Production and Protection Society

Bisan Center for Research & Development, a progressive Palestinian Civil Society Research and Development organization producing critical research knowledge about strategic and emerging issues related to development in Palestine.


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