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Microsoft Calls for Regulation of Facial Recognition Software

Microsoft Calls for Regulation of Facial Recognition Software
posted by Joshua Rosenthal

July 16, 2018

As the software used to identify people by their facial features improves and becomes more effective, there will come a time when the technology is a common tool for security. With this outcome likely to come in the near future, there will be a discussion of how this technology will affect our everyday lives and our society. One major tech company has now voiced an opinion on the matter, with Microsoft calling on Congress to consider regulations for the software.

Last Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote on the topic on Microsoft’s official blog. In the post, Smith called for Congress to form a bipartisan expert commission to inform on the need for regulation of facial recognition software. Smith warned of the possible abuses of the technology, including threats to privacy, free speech, and freedom of association.

Another issue raised by Smith will be an over-reliance on a faulty technology. In the post, Smith 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.” There are indeed precedents for this fear, including using faulty technology to identify suspects including lie detectors and early DNA testing.

In the blog post, Smith raises several questions he wants to be asked by a Congressional committee. Among the questions were:

 

-What types of legal measures can prevent use of facial recognition for racial profiling and other violations of rights while still permitting the beneficial uses of the technology?

-Should the law require that retailers post visible notice of their use of facial recognition technology in public spaces?

-Should we ensure that individuals have the right to know what photos have been collected and stored that have been identified with their names and faces?

 

At this time Congress has made no indication of forming a committee regarding the topic, but as facial recognition software becomes more popular and the issue grows, one can expect to see Congress attempt to answer these questions in the future.