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Football star Antoine Griezmann has ended his sponsorship deal with Huawei over the Chinese tech giant’s reported testing of a facial recognition system that can detect members of the persecuted Uighur ethnic group. The France and Barcelona forward explained …

Football star Antoine Griezmann has ended his sponsorship deal with Huawei over the Chinese tech giants reported testing of a facial recognition system that can detect members of the persecuted Uighur ethnic group.
The France and Barcelona forward explained his decision in an Instagram post on Thursday.
Following strong suspicions that Huawei has contributed to the development of a Uighur alert thanks to facial recognition software, I am announcing the immediate termination of my partnership with the company, the World Cup winner told his 31.5 million followers.
I take this opportunity to invite Huawei to not just deny these accusations, but to take concrete actions as quickly as possible to condemn this mass repression, and to use its influence to contribute to the respect of human and womens rights in society.
[Read: Why AI is the future of home security]
Griezmanns announcement follows media reports that Huawei had worked with facial recognition firm Megvii to test and validate Uighur alarms that could potentially alert police.
Video surveillance researchers from IVPM said theyd a Huawei interoperability report that showed the company had given the Uighur recognition system its seal of approval.
The report lists dozens of basic functions of Megviis facial recognition system that Huawei verified, including Uighur alert, which Megvii passed,’ the IPVM team wrote in a blog post. In a separate box, the report stated that Megviis software also passed being able to determine ethnicity as part of its face attribute analysis.’
The document did not reveal whether the software has been deployed. Huawei told IPVM that the report described simply a test and it has not seen real-world application.
The company also released a statement saying it was saddened by Griezmanns decision. It added that the language used in the document was completely unacceptable and descriptions of functions provided by the company Megvii rather than Huaweis own language.
Griezmanns announcement nonetheless caps a miserable year for the embattled telecoms and smartphone firm, which has been hit hard by a series of product and 5G bans over concerns about its relationship with the Chinese government.
But for footballers, 2020 will be remembered as a year in which they used their status to fight for social change, from campaigning to tackle child food poverty and racial injustice to protesting high-tech surveillance.
Published December 11, 2020 — 12:33 UTC