Microsoft Rejects Claims of Partnership with a Controversial Facial Recognition Company

Microsoft says it has no connection with SenseNets, whose facial recognition app is allegedly used by China to track Muslims.

Microsoft has come out to deny partnership with SenseNets, a Chinese facial recognition app that sparked controversy over its alleged use by China’s government to track minority Muslims in Xinjiang, a province in China. The Chinese government has repeatedly refused to accept claims about its supposed wrongdoing with regard to the country’s minority Uighur Muslim population. Reporters say SenseNets has not responded to attempts made to contact it. The company lists Microsoft under the ‘partners’ section of its official website. A Microsoft spokesperson said that the Chinese firm is using the logo of the Satya Nadella-led company without permission.

“Microsoft is not involved in a partnership with SenseNets. Our company has been made aware of the use of Microsoft’s logo by SenseNets on its website without our permission. Microsoft has asked SenseNets to remove our logo from its website,” said a Microsoft representative.

Based on Microsoft’s cloud product Azure, a type of facial recognition software is made available by the tech giant for third parties to use in their own applications. However, Microsoft says it has no relationship with the Chinese company that sells crowd analysis and facial recognition technology.

The denial comes after an ethical hacker posted a screenshot of code from SenseNets software

Microsoft’s denial about its partnership with SenseNets came after security researcher Victor Gevers posted a screenshot of code from the Chinese company’s software. Gevers is the ethical hacker who exposed Breed Ready and SenseNets data breaches. The screenshot shows a line of code that appears to be tied to a facial recognition tool by Microsoft. The tech giant did not immediately respond to whether SenseNets could access its tool without its knowledge or without paying for it.

A six-point manifesto guides Microsoft’s work on facial recognition. Lawful surveillance is one of the points included in the manifesto. It advocates for safeguarding the democratic freedom of people in scenarios related to law enforcement surveillance. A Microsoft representative says that the company does not put these freedoms at risk with the deployment of facial recognition technology.