SoftBank Backs Facial-Recognition Startup Despite Privacy Concerns

Wednesday - 07/07/2021 06:54
Israeli firm AnyVision to use $235 million investment to expand in U.S.
SoftBank is making its second major investment in facial-recognition technology, after a 2018 deal with Chinese firm SenseTime. PHOTO: YUKI IWAMURA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
SoftBank is making its second major investment in facial-recognition technology, after a 2018 deal with Chinese firm SenseTime. PHOTO: YUKI IWAMURA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

SoftBank Group Corp. 9984 -0.62% is leading an investment in AnyVision Interactive Technologies Ltd. that values the facial-recognition company at over $1 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter, underscoring its commitment to the technology despite pushback over privacy concerns.

The Tel Aviv-based company, which uses artificial intelligence to recognize faces and objects, said Wednesday that it had raised $235 million from SoftBank’s Vision Fund and other investors that it planned to use to expand in the U.S.

The fundraising comes as facial-recognition technology faces growing scrutiny from regulators and activists who say it infringes on privacy. Last month the European Union proposed a new law that sought to limit police use of the technology, while several U.S. cities including San Francisco and Portland, Ore., have banned it.

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