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Israel is increasingly using facial recognition technology to track and restrict the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank, Hebron and East Jerusalem area.
In a report titled ‘Automated Apartheid’, Amnesty claimed that Israel is using the Red Wolf facial recognition system to scan the faces of Palestinians at military checkpoints in Hebron and add them to large databases without consent.
The organisation accused that the technology is part of a larger surveillance network designed to maintain Israel’s system of apartheid and to create a coercive and hostile environment for Palestinians.
The human rights organisation has called upon Israel to lift the arbitrary restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement across the occupied Palestinian territories and dismantle the system of apartheid. It has also called for a global ban on the development, sale, and use of facial recognition technology for surveillance purposes.
The report is based on field research, interviews with the Palestinians, analysis of open-source material, and testimonies from current and former Israeli military personnel. The Red Wolf technology is linked with two other surveillance systems, Work Pack and Blue Wolf. The former is a database that contains all available information on Palestinians, while the latter is an app that Israeli forces can access via smartphones and tablets.
When a Palestinian goes through a checkpoint where Red Wolf is operating, their faces are scanned, and compared with the biometric entries in databases that exclusively contain information about Palestinians.If no entry exists for an individual, they will be denied passage.
Amnesty International has accused Israel of gamifying the surveillance of Palestinians. The Blue Wolf app generates rankings based on the number of Palestinians registered, with Israeli commanders providing prizes for the battalion with the highest scores.
Israel has also been accused of creating a dense network of Closed-Circuit Television cameras to keep Palestinians under near-constant observation invading their privacy, repressing activism, eroding their social life, and leaving them exposed.
Countries have increased surveillance on their citizens and this raises many questions regarding the privacy and integrity of the personal lives of the citizens. All stakeholders should come forward to take part in a debate balancing the nation’s legitimate security interests and the privacy of the individual.
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