Central regions | Finance, business | Technology & innovation
Russian technology to enable Chinese and Turks to identify dissidents?
18 Oct '16
NtechLab, a Russian start-up, is apparently in talks with China, Turkey and some other governments over the selling of their powerful face recognition tool, Hightech.fm reported. Users across the globe with knowledge of the technology are worried this might pose a threat to their privacy and anonymity.
The company became known after it launched its Findface, a service that helps put a name on basically any anonymous user in the social media. The service was first tested in Russia’s VKontakte social network.
The start-up’s proprietary FaceN technology is said to enable the identification of a person in a split second by analyzing just one photo against billions of photos of other people; so it could be used not only nationally, but also on a global scale.
At the heart of this fast and effective process is what the developers call “unique” artificial neural network based search algorithm.
Artyom Kukharenko, the founder of NtechLab, puts a lot of stock in the technology, considering it “limitlessly efficient and positive.” The Wall Street Journalquoted him as saying that applications are wide and range from identifying criminals in a crowd of people to helping entertainment parks sell pictures to visitors.
The developers say they are in talks over the selling of that very algorithm that made the Findface possible—and some believe the product is highly controversial—to security firms affiliated with the Chinese, Turkish and some other governments—of which some have been spotted suppressing civil rights.
Mr. Kukharenko dismissed accusations of empowering the reprehensible governments in their efforts to thwart network users’ anonymity. The moment one takes a smartphone in his or her hand is the moment the person inadvertently says bye to his/her privacy, he thinks. Governments do already monitor all movements, conversations and purchases, so worries of the new Russian technology making the situation worse are groundless and make little sense, he believes.
The start-up started out as a self-supporting company. But now it is said to be on the lookout for external investors, and hopes to raise as much as $30m within a year.