Microsoft: Tech Companies Must Regulate Their Use of Facial Recognition

Microsoft president Brad Smith speaks at the annual Microsoft shareholders meeting Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017.

Microsoft president Brad Smith speaks at the annual Microsoft shareholders meeting Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. Elaine Thompson/AP

Microsoft is calling on its fellow tech companies to adopt and follow a code of conduct for dealing with facial recognition. The company has previously called for government regulation of the burgeoning technology, Tech Crunch reports.

Microsoft President Brad Smith wrote about these concerns in a blog post on Thursday.

Smith discussed several major problems that will arise or grow if facial recognition remains unchecked. This includes certain uses of facial recognition technology that could create biased outcomes, develop new ways to invade people's privacy and allow for mass surveillance by the government.

"We and other tech companies need to start creating safeguards to address facial recognition technology. We believe this technology can serve our customers in important and broad ways, and increasingly we’re not just encouraged, but inspired by many of the facial recognition applications our customers are deploying," wrote Smith. "But more than with many other technologies, this technology needs to be developed and used carefully."

Smith and Microsoft aren't alone in their concerns.

Both the American Civil Liberties Union and a group of lawmakers have expressed concern over Amazon's Rekognition software, pointing to how it is used by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

To deal with facial recognition, Smith outlined six principles that he says Microsoft will adopt: fairness, transparency, accountability, notice and consent, non-discrimination and lawful surveillance.

Microsoft plans to follow this blog post with another document further detailing these principles. The company will also call for feedback and suggestions from the public. Eventually, Microsoft plans to launch an official framework in March.

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