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Microsoft Calls for Facial Recognition Technology Rules Given ‘Potential for Abuse’

The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself, the Microsoft President added

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Microsoft
Microsoft introduced Cortana on Windows Phone four years ago. In Windows 10, it became the core search functionality.Pixabay

At a time when facial recognition technology is fast becoming a part of our lives, Microsoft has become the first tech giant to initiate a call for regulations to limit the technology that can be used for mass surveillance affecting civil liberties.

In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology is the need of the hour.

“We believe US Congress should create a bipartisan expert commission to assess the best way to regulate the use of facial recognition technology in the US,” Smith said.

The purpose of such a commission “should include advice to Congress on what types of new laws and regulations are needed, as well as stronger practices to ensure proper congressional oversight of this technology across the executive branch”, the Microsoft President noted.

Several tech companies, including Microsoft, have utilised face-recognition technology in the past several years to turn time-consuming work to catalog photos into something both instantaneous and useful.

However, Microsoft has already rejected requests to deploy the technology in situations involving “human rights risks”, Smith informed.

Smith earlier called for a new digital Geneva Convention that commits governments to defending and protecting civilians from state-sponsored cyber-attacks.

“We live in a nation of laws, and the government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology.

“A world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards,” Smith suggested.

In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology is the need of the hour.
In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology is the need of the hour. Pixabay

The computer-assisted facial recognition can recognise people’s faces from a photo or through a camera.

This technology can catalog your photos, help reunite families or potentially be misused and abused by private companies and public authorities alike.

“Facial recognition technology raises issues that go to the heart of fundamental human rights protections like privacy and freedom of expression,” Smith wrote.

In recent weeks, a group of Amazon employees objected to its contract with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), while reiterating concerns raised by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) about law enforcement’s use of facial recognition technology.

IT company Salesforce’s employees have raised the same issues related to immigration authorities and these agencies’ use of their products.

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“Demands increasingly are surfacing for tech companies to limit the way government agencies use facial recognition and other technology,” Smith said.

The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself, the Microsoft President added.

Issues relating to facial recognition go well beyond the borders of the US and “it requires active engagement by governments, academics, tech companies and civil society internationally”.

“As we move forward, we’re committed to establishing a transparent set of principles for facial recognition technology that we will share with the public,” Smith informed. (IANS)

Next Story

Microsoft Among Other Firms in US Allowed to Sell Software to Huawei

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed this to Fortune

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Huawei
Huawei was added to the Entity List after the Department of Justice concluded that the company is engaged in activities that are contrary to US national security or foreign policy interests. Wikimedia Commons

As US President Donald Trump decided to “looked at” exempting Apple from China tariff, the US Department of Justice exempted US companies, including Microsoft, from exporting and transfer of items to Huawei and its non-US affiliates for 90 days.

The US Department of Commerce in May put Huawei on its Entity List over the so-called “national security concerns.”

In a fresh statement, the US Department of Commerce has said that “The Temporary General License extension will allow carriers to continue to service customers in some of the most remote areas of the United States who would otherwise be left in the dark.

“The Department will continue to rigorously monitor sensitive technology exports to ensure that our innovations are not harnessed by those who would threaten our national security,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed this to Fortune.

Huawei
As US President Donald Trump decided to “looked at” exempting Apple from China tariff, the US Department of Justice exempted US companies, including Microsoft, from exporting and transfer of items to Huawei and its non-US affiliates for 90 days. Pixabay

“On November 20th, the US Department of Commerce granted Microsoft’s request for a license to export mass-market software to Huawei. We appreciate the department’s action in response to our request”, the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

Huawei was added to the Entity List after the Department of Justice concluded that the company is engaged in activities that are contrary to US national security or foreign policy interests, including “alleged violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), conspiracy to violate IEEPA by providing prohibited financial services to Iran, and obstruction of justice in connection with the investigation of those alleged violations of US sanctions, among other illicit activities”.

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Huawei said in a statement on May 20 that the US export control decision is in no one’s interest and will do significant economic harm to the American companies with which Huawei does business. (IANS)