After Amazon announced yesterday its intention to prevent the use of your facial recognition system for a year on the part of the police departments, now another technological giant follows: Microsoft.
In both cases, this ‘quarantine’ is framed in the current context of racial tensions that the United States is suffering, and is destined to give US lawmakers time to pass national regulations that regulate more closely the use of this technology and make it subject to the safeguarding of human rights.
Microsoft’s announcement was made by the company’s own president, Brad Smith, during a live session for the Washington Post Live, in which he addressed the respective roles that both technology companies and governments should play in the evolution of facial recognition software:
“We need Congress to act and not just ‘let technology companies do.”
The differences between Amazon and Microsoft
This is not the first time that the Microsoft executive explicitly asks the authorities for a clear and guaranteed regulation of facial recognition: In 2018, Smith already defined this technology as a “genius” that is coming out of the bottle, and issued a warning:
“Unless we act, we risk waking up in five years to find that facial recognition services have been extended in ways that exacerbate social problems.”
Both cases are different, however: the ethical code approved in this regard by Microsoft had already led him to deny the police use of its technology before outbreak of protests while Amazon (although he had already put his proposals for a new regulation on the table) maintained agreements with 1,300 police forces from across the US.
But neither Microsoft nor Amazon have clarified what they will do within if lawmakers refuse to approve the kind of regulation they request.
In that sense, the decision of another of the greats of the industry, IBM has been much more radical: Last Tuesday he announced that he is directly withdrawing from the development of facial recognition technology because he believes that it only has potential for “mass surveillance” and “repression”.
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Microsoft joins the Amazon quarantine to the police use of facial recognition to achieve a more secure regulation