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Microsoft sheds four key executives in company shake-up

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New York: Four top executives are leaving tech giant Microsoft, including former Clinton advisor Mark Penn and ex-director of Nokia Stephen Elop, in a leadership shuffle announced by the firm’s CEO Satya Nadella, Efe news agency reported.

The leadership changes constitute the biggest switch so far during Nadella’s tenure at the helm of Microsoft, which will be divided into three big departments — “Windows and devices,” to be headed by Terry Myerson, “Cloud and enterprise”, which will be overseen by Scott Guthrie, and “Applications and services”, with Qi Lu as its chief.

In an email to company employees on Wednesday to inform them of the changes in top personnel, Nadella said that the larger changes in the firm’s structure required Microsoft to examine its leadership and the result was that several veteran team leaders will be leaving the company.

According to Nadella, Penn, who worked on both Bill and Hillary Clinton’s election campaigns, had announced last September his intention to leave the company to form his own investment fund.

With regard to Elop, whose duties fell in the area that Myerson now occupies, the Microsoft chief said that they had come to a joint decision and he lamented the loss of leadership his departure meant for the company.

Joining Penn and Elop in their move out the door are Eric Rudder, who had been with the firm for more than 25 years, and Kirill Tatarinov, under whose direction the firm’s Dynamics business grew into a $2-billion operation.

After the announcement of the changes, shares of Microsoft -one of the 30 Dow Jones components – fell 0.2 percent on the Nasdaq exchange. (IANS)

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

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)