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AI Enabling Iran's Crackdown on Women as Authoritarian Regime Uses Tech to Enforce Head Covering

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s use of artificial intelligence (AI) to crack down on its populace is having a particular impact on the freedoms of Iranian women.

Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told American media that the Iranian regime “is moving into the AI realm to benefit even more from technology that links together the disparate elements of facial recognition, CCTV, cell phone analysis, traffic geolocation, and internet monitoring,” which “bolsters its cyber crackdown on street protesters or women who don’t wear their hijab correctly.”

Enhanced AI tools will be a key facet of the forthcoming Hijab and Chastity Bill, approved by the Iranian Parliament in September 2023 and awaiting ratification from the regime’s Guardian Council.

Taleblu said AI has become “the cherry on the sundae of Iran’s digital repression, whether that starts with very crude tools like CCTV in a shop or whatever repository of purportedly criminal behavior that the regime puts at the feet of these AI sorting tools. Because humans don’t have to make the linkages, it frees up more manpower for mischief from the Iranian repressive apparatus.”

Article 60 of the Hijab and Chastity Bill forces private businesses to turn in video footage to enforcement personnel to check for compliance. Businesses that fail to comply could lose “two to six months worth of profits.” Women who fail to cover their hair properly face consequences ranging from fines to “social exclusion, exile, closure of social media pages, passport confiscation for up to two years” and possibly imprisonment for up to 10 years. (FN / VFI News)

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