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Microsoft adopts ethical principles on facial recognition technology & pushes for govt. regulation

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7 December 2018

Microsoft pushes urgency of regulating facial-recognition technology

Author: Jay Greene & Douglas MacMillan, The Wall Street Journal

Microsoft Corp. is urging governments world-wide to enact regulation of facial-recognition technology next year that requires independent assessment of accuracy and bias and prohibits ongoing surveillance of specific people without a court order... Microsoft’s advocacy of regulation underlines the ambivalence over powerful new technologies enabled by advances in AI. Adoption of facial recognition is proceeding quickly—especially in China, where the government uses it extensively for surveillance—stirring concerns about potential misuse... This year, dozens of civil-rights organizations called on Amazon to stop selling its facial-recognition technology to law-enforcement organizations. Asked about those concerns at a press conference last week, Andy Jassy, chief executive of Amazon Web Services, said the company hasn’t seen any abuses of the technology... Mr. Smith highlighted three areas where governments should focus legislation: racial and gender bias, privacy and mass government surveillance... “If a responsible company turns down business because it regards a particular use of facial recognition as likely to increase discrimination or abuse human rights, and then it sees its competitors go forward and gain those sales, you not only put people’s rights at risk, you risk tipping the market towards an approach that is less socially responsible,” Mr. Smith said in an interview. [also refers to Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft & Uber]

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7 December 2018

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

Author: Brad Smith, Microsoft

"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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7 December 2018

Microsoft adopts ethical principles aiming to bar misuse of face recognition technology

Author: Ismail Shakil & Siddharth Caval, Reuters

Microsoft Corp... announced ethical principles for the use of its facial recognition technology, saying it would bar such technology from being used to engage in unlawful discrimination and would encourage customers to be transparent when deploying such services... Microsoft President Brad Smith pushed for urgency in regulating facial-recognition technology, while adding that tech companies should self regulate too. “We believe it’s important for governments in 2019 to start adopting laws to regulate this technology."... Microsoft said... it will document and communicate the capabilities of the technology, as well as prohibit the use of facial recognition technology to engage in unlawful discrimination. The other principles listed were fairness, accountability, notice and consent, and lawful surveillance... Microsoft has also not promised to bar sale of face recognition technology to law enforcement, which is what the American Civil Liberties Union has asked for. Microsoft said it would formally launch these principles, together with supporting framework, before the end of March 2019.

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