Huawei Uyghur-spotting patent

January 2021

A patent application (pdf) filed by Huawei in conjunction with the Chinese Academy of Sciences sets out a system that identifies people who appear to be Uyghurs amongst images of pedestrians.

Discovered by video research group IPVM, the patent describes AI techniques for identifying pedestrians by attributes including race. The patent was filed in 2018.

Huawei says the Uighur detection capability 'should never have become part of the application' and that it is 'taking proactive steps to amend' it.

IPVM also revealed patents for systems capable of recognising Uyghurs filed by Chinese AI companies Megvii and SenseTime.

Operator: Unclear/unknown
Developer:
Huawei; Chinese Academy of Sciences
Country: China
Sector: Govt - police
Purpose: Detect Uyghurs
Technology: Object recognition
Issue: Surveillance
Opacity: Governance