(The Hill) — Ukraine is using facial recognition technology from US company Clearview AI to identify dead Russian soldiers and send the images to their families in an effort to turn sentiment against the war, according to The Washington Post.
The technology has been used to notify families of 582 Russian soldiers who were killed in the fighting in Ukraine, according to the country’s IT Army, the Post reported.
In total, the technology has been used 8,679 times in Ukraine, according to a statement from Clearview AI Chief Executive Hoan Ton-That given to The Hill.
Reuters first reported last month the use of the technology in Ukraine, with Ton-That telling the outlet the same technology would not be offered to the Russian forces.
The letter the company sent last month to Ukraine said the technology could be used to identify infiltrators, identify those who have died, reunite families and combat misinformation.
Ukraine has said the technology will be effective in letting Russian civilians know what is really happening in the invasion and inspire resistance in Moscow, but others have called the strategy cruel and said it could potentially make Russians angrier at Ukraine.
Ton-That told the Post five Ukrainian agencies are able to use the technology, without cost to them, during the war.
Among the agencies, 343 official accounts are active with the company and have access to the facial recognition features, according to a statement from Ton-That.
The officials have learned to use the technology in weekly meetings with Clearview AI employees, according to the Post.
“They’re so enthusiastic,” Ton-That told the newspaper. “Their energy is really high. They say they’re going to win, every call.”
The Post noted Clearview AI has faced controversy for its methods of collecting data and over fears that facial recognition could misidentify individuals, leading to families falsely being told their loved ones had died.
Ton-That said in a statement to The Hill the technology can correctly identify a face out of 12 million pictures with 99.85 percent accuracy that “will prevent misidentifications from happening in the field.”
“War zones can be dangerous when there is no way to tell apart enemy combatants from civilians. Facial recognition technology can help reduce uncertainty and increase safety in these situations,” he said. “We are ensuring each person with access to the tool is trained on how to use it safely and responsibly.”
US estimates thousands of Russian soldiers have died in the almost two months since Russia invaded.
Ukraine has been working to keep its international support high and inspire resistance in Russia, where many are deprived of information about the ongoing conflict.
Moscow is purposefully hiding casualty numbers and photos from the conflict. The government also continues to tell its citizens the war is a “special military operation” aimed at “de-Nazifying” Ukraine.