Dahua Racist Uyghur Tracking RevealedBy IPVM Team, Published Nov 04, 2020, 10:13am EST
Dahua's software, published on its website, was revealed to track Uyghurs, a persecuted minority in China. The 1-minute video below explains the situation:
This confirms Dahua developed discriminatory software like its rival Hikvision, which promoted a Uyghur-detecting AI camera last year.
Dahua deleted the source minutes after IPVM contacted them and would not comment. In this post, we examine this incident.
After @q3k's tweet, the news was widely shared on social media, including by Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong:
Note: Dahua is not partially state-owned, to the contrary of the tweet above, unlike its crosstown rival Hikvision.
What Does The Code Mean?
"EM_NATION_TYPE_UYGUR" is a face attribute analytic that is widely deployed across Chinese police security camera networks to automatically determine whether a person is Uyghur (or not). The goal is to allow PRC police to covertly track Uyghurs as they move throughout a city/town.
Many Chinese surveillance companies such as Megvii, SenseTime, and Yitu offer this analytic as reported by The New York Times. "NATION" is short for nationality (民族), the term used in the PRC for ethnic groups.
IPVM previously found over a dozen PRC police departments deploying Uyghur analytics, which China's top law enforcement agency even included in facial recognition guidelines:
The PRC government has been criticized by activists and (mostly) Western governments for human rights abuses against Uyghurs, chiefly by building a sprawling surveillance state in their home region of Xinjiang and sending millions to 're-education' camps.
Dahua Sanctions Over Uyghur Abuses
Dahua was sanctioned by the US government in October 2019 over complicity in human rights abuses against Uyghurs; in response, Dahua bragged this showcased its “strong technology”. Dahua is deeply involved in surveillance against Uyghurs, having won almost $1 billion in massive Xinjiang police surveillance deals.
Code Is On Dahua's Own Website
The SDK which mentions Uyghur recognition was available on Dahua's own Downloads page on its website which showed the SDK was current with the last update on April 21, 2020:
Dahua Deletes SDK Minutes After IPVM Requests Comment
Minutes after IPVM contacted Dahua to request comment on this story, Dahua deleted that SDK. The Dahua downloads page now has a new SDK dated November 4 which does not include Uyghur recognition, IPVM verified.
Other Analytics Being Used
The Dahua SDK shows other analytics, including whether or not someone has a beard:
Beard analytics are notable since the PRC government has cracked down on beards in Xinjiang for being a sign of religious piety (unlike in the US, in China men rarely have beards).
As noted online, the Dahua SDK also rates "attractiveness" on a 1-100 scale and has "race" detection ("black", "yellow", "white" are the only three 'races').
Dahua No Response
Although Dahua deleted the SDK less than 30 minutes after our request for comment, it did not respond to our questions about this code for more than a day. If Dahua later chooses to comment, we will update.
This incident highlights how pervasive anti-Uyghur discrimination is for PRC video surveillance companies, who profit from huge PRC police spending.
Dahua continues to avoid answering legitimate questions about its direct deals with the Xinjiang government, including selling software and services that discriminate against the persecuted Uyghur minority.
8 reports cite this report:
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