Microsoft Holds Off On Facial Recognition for Police

Brad Smith, Microsoft's president, made the announcement on Thursday.

He also cited the way the technology could affect the lives of the black community as soon as again called on the government to act in tandem with big tech, for them to both come to an equitable solution for the entire country.

The president retweeted Grenell on Friday morning.

The significance of facial recognition software had increased after the death of George Floyd when an American police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes.

Microsoft has become the third organization after Amazon and IBM to protest against biased usage of the technology by cops and other agencies.

The decision from the three tech giants, who all chose to ban or pause the sales of facial recognition in the last few days, comes two weeks after the alleged murder of George Floyd.

Similarly, IBM wrote a letter to Congress informing them that the company won't supply the facial recognition software as it could be used to violate "basic human rights and freedoms". "That is the only way that we will guarantee that we will protect the lives of people".

The rapid adoption of facial recognition systems by law enforcement agencies around the world has been challenged by civil liberties groups which have alleged the technology is not fit for objective - and in particular is poor at accurately identifying black people. That's led to criticism from groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which says Microsoft is lobbying for weak regulations that could end up legitimizing and expanding police use of facial recognition.

He has been urging lawmakers to take a stand on facial recognition software for two years, but a bill in Microsoft's home state of Washington that borrowed heavily from his proposals has failed twice.

A day after calling on Microsoft to speak out, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Policy Analyst Matthew Guariglia, updated his post to call Microsoft's Thursday announcement a good step.

"When even the makers of face recognition refuse to sell this surveillance technology because it is so unsafe, lawmakers can no longer deny the threats to our rights and liberties", the statement read.


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