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Israeli firm spying on Palestinians says it only works with ‘democratic countries'

Israeli firm spying on Palestinians says it only works with ‘democratic countries'
An Israeli facial recognition firm secretly tracking Palestinians in the West Bank says it only works with ‘democratic countries’, ironically dismissing Israel’s own human rights abuses against the Palestinians.

Anyvision Interactive Technologies is a company with Microsoft funding, a former head of the Defense Ministry’s security department as its president, and a former Mossad head as his adviser. Its facial recognition software is used by the Israeli Army at checkpoints in the West Bank, allowing soldiers to check whether Palestinians have work permits for Israel. It also has a more secretive project with the army that installs its software in cameras inside the West Bank to surveil Palestinians. 

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Anyvision addressed concerns about facial recognition software by saying it “only works with democracies,” and doesn’t “operate in China” or “sell in Africa or Russia,” with CEO Eylon Etshtein explaining, “We only sell systems to democratic countries with proper governments,” Haaretz reports.  

Anyvision’s dismissal of countries like China and Russia is at odds with the fact that its software is secretly being used by the Israeli military to spy on Palestinians in the West Bank, which is under Israeli occupation and subject to Israeli checkpoints and surveillance, despite being Palestinian territory. 

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Israel has been accused of a series of human rights violations against the Palestinians it is spying on, and its continued building of Israeli settlements within the West Bank violates UN resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention. The UN has said it may have committed war crimes for the killing of protesters, medics, and journalists at the Gaza March of Return demonstrations. Israel does not use Anyvision’s spying software in Israel or the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.  

Israel holds democratic elections for its citizens, but not all of the over 13 million people under its control. No Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, can vote, even though Israel controls much of their movements, security, water, roads, and building permits. Israeli settlers living in the West Bank can vote, however. 

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When asked about arguments that the West Bank is not governed democratically, Etshtein said, “It’s really a huge dilemma, but I’m not the guy to ask this,” adding the company does “the maximum so that its technology isn’t misused.”

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