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'Potential For Abuse' Of Face Recognition Tech Needs Rules For Governing it: Microsoft

'Potential For Abuse' Of Face Recognition Tech Needs Rules For Governing it: Microsoft
A call to the US governments for controlling the use of facial recognition technology has been given by Microsoft and has demanded that laws be framed for its acceptable usage.
Microsoft president Brad Smith urged the US government to set up a congressional bipartisan “expert commission” to investigate the aspect of regulation of the technology in the US. This call was given by Smith in a blog post on the company’s website on Friday.
“It seems especially important to pursue thoughtful government regulation of facial recognition technology, given its broad societal ramifications and potential for abuse,” he wrote. “Without a thoughtful approach, public authorities may rely on flawed or biased technological approaches to decide who to track, investigate or even arrest for a crime.”
Microsoft is arguably the first large global tech firm that has raised concerns and worries about the this increasingly sought-after technology which is used for recognition of an individual’s face from a photo or via a camera.
In May this year, Amazon was urged by a US civil liberties groups to end its program of offering of facial recognition technology to governments. The group had warned of immigrants and people of colour could be targeted unfairly by the software.
While claiming that some of the uses of the technology such as finding a missing child or identifying a terrorist were positive and “potentially even profound”, Smith called some of the other ruses of the technology to be potentially “sobering”.
“Imagine a government tracking everywhere you walked over the past month without your permission or knowledge,” he wrote. “Imagine a database of everyone who attended a political rally that constitutes the very essence of free speech.
“Imagine the stores of a shopping mall using facial recognition to share information with each other about each shelf that you browse and product you buy, without asking you first.”
The need for government action “does not absolve technology companies of our own ethical responsibilities”, Smith said.
“We recognise that one of the difficult issues we’ll need to address is the distinction between the development of our facial recognition services and the use of our broader IT infrastructure by third parties that build and deploy their own facial recognition technology,” he wrote.
He informed that Microsoft has already refused supply of its face recognition technology to some businesses which were apparently planning to make use of the technology in situations that entails the presence of “human rights risks”. No more details were provided by the company when the media contacted it following the publication of the blog post.
But Microsoft’s business association with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement was defended by Smith who claimed that the contract did not include use of any face recognition technology.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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