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Social Circles Pose More Risks Online Than Strangers: Microsoft Study

In 2018, a new classification of perpetrators — colleagues and co-workers — accounted for nine per cent of people’s unpleasant interactions online

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A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge. VOA
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While strangers pose the majority of threats online, a new study from tech giant Microsoft says people are now at more risk of being bullied, getting unwanted contact and receiving unwelcome sexual images and messages from immediate family and social circles. The study showed that more than 60 per cent of online risks were sourced from strangers and people whom respondents knew only online.

But, 28 per cent of online risks came from family and friends. The respondents who had met their abuser in real life were almost twice as likely to experience an online risk, said Jacqueline Beauchere, Microsoft Chief Online Safety Officer in a blog post. More disheartening were indications that people were targeted because of their personal characteristics, namely gender, age and physical appearance, Beauchere added.

The commonly experienced hoaxes, scams and fraud risk was led by false and misleading information. Fake news and internet hoaxes were the most common type, far outpacing fake anti-virus scams. Compared to data from 2017, negative experiences from family, friends and acquaintances were up by four per cent, seven per cent and two per cent, respectively.

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Microsoft says people are now at more risk of being bullied, getting unwanted contact and receiving unwelcome sexual images and messages from immediate family and social circles. (Wikimedia commons)

In 2018, a new classification of perpetrators — colleagues and co-workers — accounted for nine per cent of people’s unpleasant interactions online, Beauchere said. Bullying like name-calling, purposeful embarrassment topped the behavioural category, followed by repeated unwanted contact experienced by more than four in 10 respondents.

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In the sexual risk category, receipt of unwelcome sexual imagery and messages dominated, with nearly four in 10 experiencing repeated attempts to start a romantic relationship. The findings are based on attitudes and perceptions of teenagers and adults in 22 countries including India, Canada, France, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US and Vietnam, among others, about the online risks they face and how their interactions impact their lives. (IANS)

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Microsoft Wants Regulation For Facial Recognition Technology To Start in 2019

Microsoft is one of several companies playing a leading role in developing facial recognition technology

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A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge. VOA

Given the potential for abuse of the fast advancing facial recognition technology, governments across the world need to start adopting laws to regulate this technology in 2019, Microsoft President Brad Smith has said.

“Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues,” warned Smith in a blog post on Thursday.

“The time for action has arrived,” he said, adding that the industry must also exercise restraint while using this technology.

Speaking of the benefits of the technology, the Microsoft President mentioned that police in New Delhi recently trialled facial recognition technology and identified almost 3,000 missing children in four days.

Similarly, historians in the US have used the technology to identify the portraits of unknown soldiers in Civil War photographs taken in the 1860s.

Researchers successfully used facial recognition software to diagnose a rare, genetic disease in Africans, Asians and Latin Americans.

And in October, the National Australia Bank designed a proof of concept to enable customers to withdraw money from an Automatic Teller Machine using facial recognition and a PIN.

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Regulation for facial recognition technology must start in 2019: Microsoft. Pixabay

But at the same time, the potential for abuse of this technology is huge, Smith said, adding that certain uses of this technology could lead to biased decisions and discrimination.

Moreover, the widespread use of this technology can lead to new intrusions into people’s privacy, he said.

“The use of facial recognition technology by a government for mass surveillance can encroach on democratic freedoms,” Smith added.

Also Read- Fujifilm Launches its Medium Format Mirrorless Camera in India

“While we believe that new laws and regulations are indispensable, we also recognise that they are not a substitute for the responsibility that needs to be exercised by tech companies,” he said.

Microsoft is one of several companies playing a leading role in developing facial recognition technology.

The company, Smith said, would start adopting new principles to manage the issues surrounding facial recognition technology in the first quarter of 2019. (IANS)