As a month passes following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the world witnesses new developments surrounding the war. News from Wednesday, March 23, specify how Ukraine has started the use of a facial recognition technology for free, among other businesses. They are implementing the software to identify the bodies of Russian soldiers losing their lives in combat. In turn, attempting to trace their families to inform them about their passing. The vice prime minister of Ukraine, Mykhailo Federov confirmed the news. He is also in charge of the ministry of digital transformation.
According to an exclusive report from Reuters, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense initiated the use of a technology from Clearview AI from the month of March. The exact use of the technology was still not clear at that point. This provider of facial recognition, based in New York comes up with pictures on the web that match with the faces depicted from the pictures uploaded. The technology looks for social media accounts of these soldiers.
“As a courtesy to the mothers of those soldiers, we are disseminating this information over social media…….and to then enable them to come to collect their bodies,” Fedorov said in an interview.
The vice prime minister refused to state the specific number of bodies identified through this software. However, he reassured that percentage of families having claimed these individuals’ bodies have been high. Civil rights groups, along with other rivals of the technology has opposed to Ukraine’s use of Clearview. They claimed that a misidentification could be highly possible. Like Facebook, Clearview is also fighting a lawsuit for allegedly violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act in Chicago. They are fighting it by claiming that all its actions were legitimate and were designed for investigative use only.
Federov pointed out, without specifying the reason, that Ukraine was not using the software to identify its own soldiers killed in combat. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine did acknowledge request made for comments. Currently, it is working on Ukraine’s ‘Look For Your Own’ project Telegram channel. They post photographs of unidentified killed or captured soldiers from Russia, inviting collection claims from families.
Additionally, the government has kept an online form in place for Russian families to put in a claim for the collection of a body. According to the Ukrainian military, about 15,000 Russian soldiers lost their lives since the invasion. However, Russia claimed its casualties to be much lower, during what they call a “special military operation” to demilitarise Ukraine.