More details were released on the IDF’s use of facial recognition in the West Bank

The IDF has been making large-scale efforts to monitor Palestinians using facial recognition on a network of cameras and smartphones. The Washington Post reported Monday.

The surveillance project uses a smartphone technology called Blue Wolf to capture photos of Palestinians’ faces and compare them to a database of images described by a former soldier as the army’s “Facebook for Palestinians.” A phone app flashes different colors to alert soldiers if a person needs to be detained, arrested or left alone, according to the report.

The Washington Post The report comes about two years after it was first reported that Israeli facial recognition company AnyVision was being used at checkpoints in the West Bank, and the technology helped shorten wait times at checkpoints.

Marker reported in 2019 that Anyvision was also being used in the West Bank to detect and monitor potential Palestinian aggressors.

An audit by US international firm Covington & Burling LLP confirmed that the technology was being used at checkpoints, but dismissed claims that the technology was part of a mass surveillance program.

View of a security camera overlooking the West Bank city of Hebron. January 15, 2013 (credit: NATI SHOHAT / FLASH90)

TSG IT Advanced Systems, a Tel Aviv-based security technology company, also told Israel Defense in 2018 that it provided software to Israeli security forces to identify vehicles and that it had added facial recognition capabilities to its system.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that IDF soldiers received prizes in contests to photograph Palestinians of all ages last year in order to build the app’s database, with thousands of people photographed so far.

The Blue Wolf database is a smaller version of a larger database called the Wolf Pack, which contains profiles of almost all Palestinians in the West Bank, including photos, family histories, education and a security classification, said one soldier. . The Washington Post.

Another app called White Wolf has been developed for use by security teams in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, although the teams cannot detain people. The app can be used to scan the ID card of a Palestinian before entering a settlement.

The IDF has also installed face-scan cameras in Hebron to help soldiers identify Palestinians at checkpoints even before they identify ID cards.

The report was based on the anonymous testimony of two former Israeli soldiers and four other former soldiers who spoke with the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence. The NGO says it will publish research on the program in the future.

One soldier said that she “would not feel comfortable wearing it at the mall in [my hometown], let’s put it that way. People worry about fingerprints, but this is repeated several times. “

The official use of facial recognition technology has been banned by at least a dozen US cities, and the European Parliament has called for the technology to also be banned for law enforcement use, according to The Washington Post.

The existence of the initiative has been recognized by the IDF in the past, but The Washington Post He said this is the first detailed description of the program.

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