12 June 2020

Microsoft joins Amazon, IBM in pausing face scans for police

Microsoft has change into the third massive tech firm this week to say it won’t sell its facial recognition software program to police, following similar moves by Amazon and IBM.

Microsoft’s president and chief counsel, Brad Smith, announced the choice and referred to as on Congress to regulate the technology throughout a Washington Post video event on Thursday.

“We’ve decided we will not sell facial recognition technology to police in the US till we have a national law in place, grounded in human rights, that may govern this technology,” Smith mentioned.

The trio of tech giants is stepping again from law-enforcement use of techniques that have faced criticism for incorrectly identifying folks with darker skin. Ongoing protests following the death of George Floyd have targeted attention on racial injustice in the U.S. and how police use technology to trace folks.

But whereas all three companies are known for their work in developing synthetic intelligence, together with the face recognition software program, none is a serious participant in promoting such expertise to police. Smith mentioned Thursday that Microsoft currently doesn’t sell its face recognition software program to any U.S. police departments. He didn’t say if that features federal legislation enforcement businesses or police forces exterior the U.S.

A number of other companies which can be less well known dominate the market for government facial recognition contracts in the U.S., including Tokyo-based NEC and the European companies Idemia and Gemalto.

Microsoft, Amazon and IBM are calling on Congress to set national guidelines over how police use facial recognition — something that’s now being thought-about as part of a police reform package sparked by the protests following George Floyd’s death.

“If all of the responsible companies in the nation cede this market to those that aren’t prepared to take a stand, we won’t essentially serve the national interest or the lives of the black and African American people of this nation effectively,” Smith mentioned. “We need Congress to act, not just tech companies alone.”

Microsoft has spent two years warning of the potential dangers of face-scanning technology being abused to enable oppressive mass surveillance, but the company has opposed outright bans on government use of the technology handed in San Francisco and different cities. That’s led to criticism from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which says Microsoft is lobbying for weak laws that could find yourself legitimizing and expanding police use of facial recognition.

“Congress and legislatures nationwide must swiftly stop law enforcement use of face recognition, and companies like Microsoft should work with the civil rights community — not against it — to make that occur,” said Matt Cagle, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California, in an announcement Thursday.

Source : apnews