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Commentary: Govt. regulation & company safeguards needed to prevent discrimination & surveillance with facial recognition technology

Author: Brad Smith, Microsoft, Published on: 7 December 2018

"Facial recognition: it's time for action," 6 Dec 2018

We believe it’s important for governments in 2019 to start adopting laws to regulate this technology... we don’t believe that the world will be best served by a commercial race to the bottom, with tech companies forced to choose between social responsibility and market success. We believe that the only way to protect against this race to the bottom is to build a floor of responsibility that supports healthy market competition. And a solid floor requires that we ensure that this technology, and the organizations that develop and use it, are governed by the rule of law... We and other tech companies need to start creating safeguards to address facial recognition technology. 

... [C]ertain uses of facial recognition technology increase the risk of decisions and, more generally, outcomes that are biased and, in some cases, in violation of laws prohibiting discrimination. Second, the widespread use of this technology can lead to new intrusions into people’s privacy. And third, the use of facial recognition technology by a government for mass surveillance can encroach on democratic freedoms.

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