One of the largest technology companies in the world. A major shareholder in AnyVision, whose technology is installed in illegal checkpoints in occupied West Bank. One of the main providers of IT services used by the US government to surveil immigrant communities.
Microsoft Corporation is a U.S.-based multinational technology company. One of the largest companies in the world, it is one of a handful of companies that reached a trillion-dollar market cap. The company’s 2019 revenues were $125 billion.
Involvement in the Israeli occupation of Palestine
In 2019, M12, Microsoft’s venture capital subsidiary, made a multi-million-dollar investment in AnyVision Interactive Technologies Ltd, an Israeli startup company that specializes in integrating computer vision, facial recognition, and artificial intelligence technologies. The exact investment amount was not disclosed, but the combined investment of Microsoft, DFJ Growth, and OG Technology Partners amounted to $31 million. Other AnyVision’s investors include engineering and technology conglomerate Robert Bosch GmbH, chip manufacturer Qualcomm, and venture capital firms Eldridge Industries and LightSpeed Venture Partners.
AnyVision’s main security product, Better Tomorrow, uses facial biometrics to identify specific people within large crowds. This technology has been integrated into Israel’s illegal military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank. AnyVision has another, more secretive project, to use a network of cameras deployed “deep inside the West Bank” to surveil the Palestinian population subject to a military occupation. This project won the company an award in 2018 from the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
AnyVision’s technology is used by government agencies and private actors in at least 44 other countries. Among others, the company sells its technology to state actors in Russia and was expanding its operations in Hong Kong in the summer of 2019, as facial recognition technologies were documented being used to repress protests there. The U.S. Navy bought AnyVision’s technology in 2019, and the company’s CEO had said the company employs lobbyists in the U.S. Congress to “explain why artificial intelligence is a good thing.”
Tracking immigrant communities in the US
Microsoft provides IT infrastructure to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through its government cloud infrastructure service, Microsoft Azure Government. Some of the databases and case management tools Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) uses to track, monitor, and deport immigrants are hosted on Microsoft Azure. In a 2018 company blog post, Microsoft boasted that its Azure services enable ICE to “process data on edge devices or utilize deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification, adding that the company is “proud to support this work with our mission-critical cloud.” Microsoft walked back that statement in response to public and employee outrage. In addition, the FBI's biometric database, Next Generation Identification (NGI), which shares information with DHS and ICE, is hosted by Microsoft Azure Government.
It is difficult to identify which other specific DHS systems use Microsoft Azure and to track the company’s profits from DHS contracts because Microsoft does not supply these services directly to DHS. Instead, these contracts go through third-party service providers that help their customers implement and manage a cloud deployment. However, analysis by Mijente, the National Immigration Project, and the Immigrant Defense Project suggests that Microsoft Azure is the second most commonly used cloud platform for DHS, after Amazon’s AWS. As of October 2019, only five cloud services are authorized to serve DHS and have the “high-level” security accreditation reserved for the kind of sensitive data contained in DHS databases and case management software. Two of these services are Microsoft's.