Microsoft announced Thursday that it will not sell its facial-recognition technology to police departments in the United States until a federal law exists that regulates its use.
“We will not sell facial-recognition technology to police departments in the United States until we have a national law in place, grounded in human rights, that will govern this technology,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said.
Smith said Microsoft has not sold its facial-recognition technology to police departments. And the company has backed legislation in California that would allow police use of the technology with some restrictions.
The company plans to put in place “review factors” that Smith said would “go even beyond what we already have” to determine the use of the technology beyond law enforcement.
“The bottom line for us is to protect the human rights of people as this technology is deployed,” Smith said. (WaPo)
The move follows similar decisions IBM and Amazon made in the wake of nationwide protests against police brutality and racial profiling. IBM said they would no longer be in the business of facial-recognition technology over its potential to be used for mass surveillance and racial profiling. Amazon, meanwhile, said it would ban police departments from its facial-recognition technology for at least a year, which would give Congress “enough time to implement appropriate rules.”
Conservatives pushed back on Microsoft’s announcement, with former acting DNI director Richard Grenell saying there should be consequences.
“They should now be barred from federal government contracts – there should be consequences for not selling technology to police departments. @realDonaldTrump,” he tweeted.
They should now be barred from federal government contracts – there should be consequences for not selling technology to police departments. @realDonaldTrump https://t.co/dsOVPVfufI— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) June 12, 2020