Ukraine scans the faces of dead Russian soldiers and sends photos of the family

A Ukrainian soldier near the body of two dead Russian soldiers in Kharkov.  Image AFP

A Ukrainian soldier near the body of two dead Russian soldiers in Kharkov.Image AFP

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said last month that Ukraine was using the controversial Clearview AI software “to search social media for profiles of Russian soldiers based on (pictures) of their bodies, to report their deaths to friends and relatives.”

More than 340 employees of five different Ukrainian government departments can now use Clearview AI for free, reports Hoan Ton-That, CEO of the software company. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian authorities have already scanned the faces of more than 8,600 Russians killed in the action. A group of volunteer hackers and activists led by the Ukrainian government used these images to inform the families of 582 Russians about the death of their loved one, including sending photos of the bodies of the remains.

Psychological war

Fedorov said last month that the action was aimed at “exposing the myth of a ‘special operation’ in which ‘no conscripts are involved’ and where ‘no one is dying'”. Ukraine hopes that in that way it will provoke resistance in Russia against the Russian military campaign.

However, some military and IT analysts talk about “psychological warfare” and fear that such an approach could return. After all, instead of directing their anger at the Russian regime that coordinates the war within the Kremlin, mothers who receive horrific photos may be outraged at what Ukrainians have done to their boys.

Ukraine also uses technology to identify people detained in Russia and search their social media accounts for suspicious information, including their contacts.

However, the software is not secure, and experts fear that some families will be misinformed about the death of their cousin.

Privacy International, a non-governmental organization that defends the right to privacy around the world, is calling on Clearview to stop working in Ukraine. According to the company, “the potential consequences, such as mislabeling civilians as soldiers, are too dire to tolerate.” However, Ton-That states that the Clearview search engine is accurate.

The body of a dead Russian soldier near Kharkov.  Figure ANP / EPA

The body of a dead Russian soldier near Kharkov.Figure ANP / EPA

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