Iran to use AI to detect women without veils

Iran plans to use AI and facial recognition to automatically detect, identify and convict women not wearing veils. According to many activists, this technology is already being used to recognize women taking part in protests linked to the murder of Jina Mahsa Amini…

Artificial intelligence opens the door to the future. Tools such as DALL-E, MidJourney or the ChatGPT chatbot are unleashing creativity, and in the long term, AI could even free humans from work thanks to automation.

Unfortunately, in some countries, technology is exploited to maintain medieval traditions and archaic traditions. This is the case in Iran, which plans to use facial recognition to detect and convict women without an Islamic veil.

In 2022, Iranian legislators proposed to use this innovation to monitor the wearing of the hijab. In September, the head of a government agency responsible for enforcing the ” morality law “confirmed that it would be used to ” identify inappropriate and unusual movements “… in particular “ failure to comply with hijab laws “.

The women not wearing their headscarf can be identifiedby comparing their faces on a database. They will then be fined, or arrested directly at home.

When police visit protesters

Two weeks after this announcement, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman named Jina Mahsa Amini has died after being hauled in by the morality police for not pulling her veil tight enough.

The tragedy sparked a wave of historic demonstrations across the country to protest against dress regulations imposed on women. More than 19,000 arrests and 500 deaths followed.

However, according to many people following the crisis closely, including anti-scarf activist Shaparak Shajarizadeh, a refugee in Canada since 2018, this wave of arrests presents worrying anomalies

Many people were not arrested directly in the streets, but two or three days later, at home. While it is possible that these women were identified by other means, there is every reason to believe that facial recognition is already in operation.

What’s more, according to Oxford University researcher Mahsa Alimardani, rumor has it that Iranian women have been receiving letters from the authorities for breaking the hijab law without prior interaction with the police.

Iran, a high-tech Islamic dictatorship

If these rumors are true, this would be the first time that a government uses facial recognition to impose a dress code on women based on religious belief.

Many authoritarian regimes wish to exploit facial recognition to combat dissidents, but most lack the required infrastructure. Or, Iran is one of the few countries to have both governmental will and technical capacity.

Facial recognition is already used by many branches of the Iranian government. Since 2020, this technology has been used to send fines and SMS warnings to women not wearing a hijab in their vehicle.

For Mahsa Alimardani, there can be no doubt: over the last few years, the Iranian government has been secretly developing a vast digital surveillance system. The national identity database, created in 2015, includes biometric data including facial scans. It is used for identity cards, and to identify dissidents.

Technology provided by China

The facial recognition used by Iran is supplied by the Chinese company Tiandywhich specializes in AI and surveillance cameras. Its contracts with Iran were revealed in December 2021 by a report by IPVM.

Si Tiandy is one of the largest camera manufacturers in the world, its sales are mainly in China. However, the company saw Iran as an opportunity for expansion.

According to IPVM, Tiandy Iran website temporarily listed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the police and a government prison labor organization among its customers.

In December 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce sanctioned Tiandy, citing its role in the repression of Uighur Muslims in China and the supply of American technology to Iran. A fine illustration of the expression “ eating at all the troughs

Social regression accelerated by AI

Decades ago, in a bid to modernize the country, Iranian law required women to remove their veils. The police could even force them to do so. In 1979 that the wearing of the hijab became compulsory.when the country became a theocracy.

In August 2022, President Ebrahim Raisi introduced new chastity rules. Henceforth, women who failed to comply with these laws could be prosecuted. lose access to banks, public transport and other essential services.

Repeat offenders can spend several years in prison or in “correctional facilities”. morality schools “. It is unfortunate that Iran is moving backwardsand is now exploiting cutting-edge technology to regress even faster…