SenseTime, in their own words, is currently one of the world’s most valuable artificial intelligence startups. It is established in Hong Kong with additional offices across China, Singapore, Japan, Abu Dhabi, and the United States.
U.S. government officials are considering banning Chinese chip manufacturer SMIC from purchasing key U.S. technologies, and at the same time putting Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime on the blacklist of the U.S. Treasury Department, ntdtv reported.
According to the department’s statements, SenseTime was banned due to its development of a facial recognition program that targets the Uighurs.
The statement said:
“When applying for patent applications, Shenzhen SenseTime Technology Co Ltd has highlighted its ability to identify Uighurs with beards, sunglasses, and face veils”
SenseTime was allegedly referenced in a patent application that claimed it could identify people based on ethnicity, explicitly mentioning “Uighur” as an option in July 2019. The accusation was made by IPVM, an independent group that monitored video surveillance technology, earlier this year.
SenseTime made a public statement on Saturday denying the U.S. accusations.
The announcement came right before SenseTime’s IPO launch in Hong Kong.
At the same time, Wall Street Journal reported that a Defense Department proposal to tighten regulatory loopholes that have allowed Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) to purchase important U.S. technology was set to be discussed this month.
People familiar with the matter said the Biden administration was considering barring more Chinese technological companies from being invested in by the Americans.