The United States Blacklisting Chinese AI Firms

The United States Blacklisting Chinese AI Firms

The United States is blacklisting the Chinese Technology firms that are indulged in developing facial recognition and other Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology which suppress the Muslim minority groups of China.   A move Monday by the US Department of Commerce put companies on the so-called entity list for acting contrary to US foreign policy interests.   The blacklist effectively prohibits US companies from selling technology to Chinese companies without the approval of government.  

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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a written statement Monday that “the US government will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China."   The companies that have come under the knife are Hikvision and Dahua. Both these companies provides video surveillance technology across the world.   Hikvision said in a statement Monday that it respects human rights and are strongly against the Trump administration's decision. The company also said that it has spent almost a year trying to "clarify misunderstandings about the company and address their concerns," and this will also hurt its US business partners.   Other Chinese firms that are in the list are Sense Time, Megvii, and iFlytek.   iFlytek is known for its translation and voice recognition services. While Megvii and Sense Time are known for the development of computer vision technology i.e. facial recognition products.   Around 28 organizations has been blacklisted on Monday. Along with the tech companies, the Commerce Department's filing targets local government agencies in China's northwestern Xinjiang region.  

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The filing said “the listed groups have been implicated in China's campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other predominantly Muslim minority groups”.   The Chinese embassy and several of the targeted companies didn't immediately return requests for comment.   The Trump administration in early 2019 used the same blacklisting process to punish the Chinese telecom giant- Huawei and it was targeted by the US over national security concerns. Five Chinese groups were added to the list in June that were working in supercomputing.   Ross said “Monday's action will ensure US technologies are not used to repress defenseless minority populations."   China has estimated that 1 million Muslims have been detained in detention centers such as prisons in the region. The inexorable come with large-scale surveillance networks equipped with rigorous travel restrictions and facial recognition technology. China has denied abuses at the centers and described them as schools aimed at providing employable skills and combating extremism.