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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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Volkswagen partners with Microsoft to develop connected cars. Pixabay
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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.

Also Read: Microsoft Team is Now Available to Use for Free

“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)

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Shanghai Airport Gets Check-In With Facial Recognition Machines

Increased convenience may come at a cost in a country with few rules on how the government can use biometric data.

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Shanghai,
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection facial recognition device is ready to scan another passenger at a United Airlines gate. VOA

It’s now possible to check in automatically at Shanghai Hongqiao airport using facial recognition technology, part of an ambitious rollout of facial recognition systems in China that has raised privacy concerns as Beijing pushes to become a global leader in the field.

Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport unveiled self-service kiosks for flight and baggage check-in, security clearance and boarding powered by facial recognition technology, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Similar efforts are under way at airports in Beijing and Nanyang city, in central China’s Henan province.

Shanghai,
Face recognition tool was first launched in 2012

Many airports in China already use facial recognition to help speed security checks, but Shanghai’s system, which debuted Monday, is being billed as the first to be fully automated.

“It is the first time in China to achieve self-service for the whole check-in process,” said Zhang Zheng, general manager of the ground services department for Spring Airlines, the first airline to adopt the system at Hongqiao airport. Currently, only Chinese identity card holders can use the technology.

Spring Airlines, Shanghai said Tuesday that passengers had embraced automated check-in, with 87 percent of 5,017 people who took Spring flights on Monday using the self-service kiosks, which can cut down check-in times to less than a minute and a half.

Shanghai,
Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of the Boston-based artificial intelligence firm Affectiva, demonstrates the company’s facial recognition technology, in Boston, April 23, 2018. VOA

Across greater China, facial recognition is finding its way into daily life. Mainland police have used facial recognition systems to identify people of interest in crowds and nab jaywalkers, and are working to develop an integrated national system of surveillance camera data.

Chinese media are filled with reports of ever-expanding applications: A KFC outlet in Hangzhou, near Shanghai, where it’s possible to pay using facial recognition technology; a school that uses facial recognition cameras to monitor students’ reactions in class; and hundreds of ATMs in Macau equipped with facial recognition devices to curb money laundering.

Also Read: Facial Recognition Technology Catches A Person With Fake Passpost At The US Airport 

But increased convenience may come at a cost in a country with few rules on how the government can use biometric data.

“Authorities are using biometric and artificial intelligence to record and track people for social control purposes,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch. “We are concerned about the increasing integration and use of facial recognition technologies throughout the country because it provides more and more data points for the authorities to track people.” (VOA)