Microsoft Won't Sell Facial Recognition to Law Enforcement

Tech company is demanding a National law to address its use

One by one, tech companies developing facial recognition technologies are refusing to sell it to police departments because the technology can lead to unfair racial profiling and misidentification. It's a step in the right direction toward social justice.

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Amazon, IBM, and now Microsoft have all pledged to pause selling their facial recognition technology to U.S. law enforcement.

What Microsoft wants: In a conversation with The Washington Post on Thursday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said that his company will not sell facial recognition technology to police departments in the U.S. "until we have a national law in place grounded in human rights that will govern this technology."

Not a new position: Unlike other tech rivals in the space, Microsoft has been talking about the need for facial recognition technology regulation for two years. In July, 2018, Smith wrote, "The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself."

Doing more now: Smith said Microsoft is more closely reviewing other potential uses of facial recognition technology and potential scenarios surrounding it. He didn't elaborate on what those scenarios might be.

The risks of doing nothing: Microsoft's Smith echoed some of the concerns expressed by others in the tech industry, that by ceding the market to those who do not care about bias and racial justice "we won't necessarily serve the national interest or the lives of the Black and African American people of this nation well."

National facial recognition laws would ensure that all companies, big and small, working on this technology follow the same set of rules. Otherwise, smaller firms with fewer concerns about racial bias and profiling will fill the market gap, leaving Amazon (which promised to pause for a year), IBM, and Microsoft out in the cold.

Via: The Washington Post

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