How Israel is using facial recognition in Gaza : Short Wave After the Hamas attack of Oct. 7 triggered Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians began fleeing from the North of Gaza to the South. As they fled, many Palestinians reported passing through checkpoints with cameras. Israel had previously used facial recognition software in the West Bank, and some Palestinians reached out to The New York Times reporter Sheera Frenkel to investigate whether the same was happening in Gaza.

Science correspondent Geoff Brumfiel talks to Frenkel about how Israel launched this facial recognition system in Gaza late last year with the help of private companies and Google photos.

Read Frenkel's full article.

Want to hear us cover more stories about AI? Email us at shortwave@npr.org.

How Israel is using facial recognition in Gaza

How Israel is using facial recognition in Gaza

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Palestinians walk along Salah al-Din Road in Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip. NurPhoto/Getty Images hide caption

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NurPhoto/Getty Images

Palestinians walk along Salah al-Din Road in Deir Al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip.

NurPhoto/Getty Images

After the Hamas-led attack of Oct. 7 triggered Israel's invasion of the Gaza Strip, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians began fleeing from the North of Gaza to the South. As they fled, many Palestinians reported passing through checkpoints with cameras. Israel had previously used facial recognition software in the West Bank, and some Palestinians reached out to The New York Times reporter Sheera Frenkel to ask if she could investigate whether they were also using it in Gaza.

Frenkel found that Israel had launched a new facial recognition system in Gaza late last year with the help of private companies – and Google photos. Google was unaware its technology was being used in this way until Frenkel reached out to the organization for comment. Frenkel also found that the technology was initially used to search for Israelis who were taken by Hamas on Oct. 7, and has increasingly been used to search for members of Hamas and other militant groups. Frenkel's reporting shows the software was used to wrongfully detain civilians Israel had misidentified as Hamas militants.

Read Frenkel's full article.

Want to hear us cover more stories about AI? Email us at shortwave@npr.org.

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Today's episode was produced by Rachel Carlson and edited by Rebecca Ramirez. Rachel and Geoff Brumfiel checked the facts. Gilly Moon was the audio engineer.