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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 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)

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Microsoft Profits Rises by 14 Percent Making its Value Close in Trillion Dollar Mark

Profits in the quarter to March 31 rose 19 percent to $8.8 billion on revenues of $30.8 billion, an increase of 14 percent from the same period a year earlier

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FILE - A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 18, 2017. VOA

Microsoft said profits climbed in the past quarter on its cloud and business services as the U.S. technology giant saw its market value close in on the trillion-dollar mark.

Profits in the quarter to March 31 rose 19 percent to $8.8 billion on revenues of $30.8 billion, an increase of 14 percent from the same period a year earlier. Microsoft shares gained some 3% in after-hours trade, pushing it closer to $1 trillion in value.

It ended the session Wednesday with a market valuation of some $960 million, just behind Apple but ahead of Amazon.

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Profits in the quarter to March 31 rose 19 percent to $8.8 billion on revenues of $30.8 billion, an increase of 14 percent from the same period a year earlier. Pixabay

In the fiscal third quarter, Microsoft showed its reliance on cloud computing and other business services which now drive its earnings, in contrast to its earlier days when it focused on consumer PC software.

“Leading organizations of every size in every industry trust the Microsoft cloud,” chief executive Satya Nadella said in a statement.

Commercial cloud revenue rose 41% from a year ago to $9.6 billion, which now makes up nearly a third of sales, Microsoft said.

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Microsoft shares gained some 3% in after-hours trade, pushing it closer to $1 trillion in value. Pixabay

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Some $10.2 billion in revenue came from the “productivity and business services” unit which includes its Office software suite for both consumers and enterprises, and the LinkedIn professional social network.

The “more personal computing” unit which includes its Windows software, Surface devices and gaming operations generated $10.6 billion in the quarter. (VOA)