Microsoft will not sell its facial recognition technology to law enforcement if its use is not regulated by the government. The company also says that human rights must be protected when the software is deployed.
Microsoft president Brad Smith tells The Washington Post that the company has been focused on this issue for two years. As a matter of principle, Smith says that the government should regulate the use of the software. Microsoft does not currently sell facial recognition software to US law enforcement agencies. Microsoft will not sell the software to law enforcement until national laws are enacted.
At the same time, Smith says it’s looking at “additional assessment factors” so Microsoft can do more with the software than it does now. It is not clear from the interview what kind of ‘extra scenarios’ Smith is thinking. He emphasizes that the use of facial recognition software must be bound by laws that have the protection of human rights first. To this end, he calls on American politicians to take action. According to Smith, this is necessary to save human lives.
This is not the first time that Microsoft has asked governments to regulate facial recognition. In 2018, the company called on Europe to regulate the software and asked the United States to introduce rules around facial recognition. The use of facial recognition software has been in the news this week after both Amazon and IBM announced measures surrounding the software. IBM is completely shutting down the software; Amazon will not supply it to law enforcement for a year. Both companies cite ethical objections as a reason for taking the measures.