Microsoft urges regulation of face-recognising tech
San Francisco: Microsoft's chief legal officer on Friday called for regulation of facial recognition technology due to the risk to privacy and human rights. Brad Smith made a case for a government initiative to lay out rules for proper use of facial recognition technology, with input from a bipartisan and expert commission.
Facial recognition technology raises significant human rights and privacy concerns, Smith said in a blog post. "Imagine a government tracking everywhere you walked over the past month without your permission or knowledge," he said. "Imagine a database of everyone who attended a political rally that constitutes the very essence of free speech."
It could become possible for businesses to track visitors or customers, using what they see for decisions regarding credit scores, lending decisions, or employment opportunities without telling people.
He said scenarios portrayed in fictional films such as "Minority Report", "Enemy of the State", and even the George Orwell dystopian classic "1984" are "on the verge of becoming possible". "These issues heighten responsibility for tech companies that create these products," Smith said. "In our view, they also call for thoughtful government regulation and for the development of norms around acceptable uses." Microsoft and other tech firms have used facial recognition technology for years for tasks such as organizing digital photographs. But the ability of computers to recognize people's faces is improving rapidly, along with the ubiquity of cameras and the power of computing hosted in the internet cloud to figure out identities in real time.