A homeless in front of the Microsoft Vancouver. — Photo by: @heinrich_boll

Microsoft Will Not Sell Facial Recognition to the Police

Following IBM’s and then Amazon’s suspension of sales to facial recognition technology to police a recent announcement from Brad Smith shows Microsoft is following suit

After the death of George Floyd in the US and increased tensions around racial issues several large technology companies have announced that they are halting the sales of facial recognition technologies used in policing.

Microsoft, like Amazon, has said it will revisit the issue when stronger regulation is in place. These two companies does not go as far as IBM, which said it will stop selling facial recognition tech.

This is not without considerable effort by activist and only a short time ago Microsoft held a completely different position. A letter from the The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) read as following:

“In January 2019, the ACLU led a coalition of over 80 civil rights groups calling on Amazon, Google, and Microsoft to stop selling face recognition technology to law enforcement. Google heeded these calls early on. Microsoft instead responded with a legislative effort in multiple states to legitimize law enforcement use of the technology. The ACLU, together with a coalition of groups, earlier this month defeated one such effort in California.”

Now however, the statement by Microsoft sounds rather different.

During a remote interview at a Washington Post Live event this morning, the company’s president Brad Smith said Microsoft has already been taking a “principled stand” on the proper use of this technology.

This is certainly a move in the right direction and adds to the momentum of companies admitting to limitations in facial recognition technology, certainly a positive move for the industry overall.

This is #500daysofAI and you are reading article 376. I am writing one new article about or related to artificial intelligence every day for 500 days. Towards day 400 I am writing about artificial intelligence and racial inequality.

AI Policy and Ethics at www.nora.ai. Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own. twitter.com/AlexMoltzau

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