Microsoft urges regulation of face-recognizing tech

July 14, 2018
Microsoft and other tech companies have used facial recognition technology for years for tasks such as organizing digital photographs

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 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 companies 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.

While the can be used for good, perhaps finding missing children or known terrorists, it can also be abused.

"It may seem unusual for a company to ask for government regulation of its products, but there are many markets where thoughtful regulation contributes to a healthier dynamic for consumers and producers alike," Smith said.

"It seems especially important to pursue thoughtful of , given its broad societal ramifications and potential for abuse."

Concerns about misuse prompted Microsoft to "move deliberately" with facial consulting or contracting, according to Smith.

"This has led us to turn down some customer requests for deployments of this service where we've concluded that there are greater human rights risks," Smith said.

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TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (4) Jul 14, 2018
"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."

-Humans are already capable doing these things. They do them all the time. The ability is fully covered by many laws.

Technology would only make this easier, cheaper, safer, and more effective.

And so again we can see how the desire to cheat and lie without detection... the chance to break the law and get away with it... is somehow perceived as a basic human right.

It might FEEL that way to you, but that is only the wild animal in you trying to get out of the cage.
rderkis
1 / 5 (1) Jul 14, 2018
ffff
chemhaznet1
3 / 5 (2) Jul 14, 2018
TheGhostofOtto1923 why don't you list examples of such laws that are relevant to this article to make an even stronger point?

Also the goal of this person from Microsoft obviously isn't to help people to "cheat and lie without detection... the chance to break the law and get away with it..." What reason can you give that would Microsoft want to help criminals get away with breaking laws?
gwrede
5 / 5 (1) Jul 14, 2018
Please, bear with me, while I'm trying to use banal examples to exemplify this to myself.

On the one hand, we colud have a society, where nobody can even fart without everybody knowing about it. I actually lived in one, 50 years ago, in remote rural Finland. People had electricity only for lights in some rooms, and the radio. Stoves used chopped wood. Water was carried from the well to the kitchen, and refuse was carried to the dump. There were no toilets, you had to go to a privy at the end of the lot.

THERE WAS NO PRIVACY. And because of old women, the whole community knew everything you did by the next morning. -- We survived.

On the other hand, there are societies where everything is a Secret. Even bank accounts are merely numbered. -- Been there, too. -- And THIS is where everybody has a skeleton in the closet.

Yes, we're scared shitless of Big Brother. But what about Congressmen, Representatives, or others who are owned -- only because of secrecy and privacy?

rrwillsj
3 / 5 (3) Jul 14, 2018
This reminds me of the joke about the promiscuous preacher. Who sermonized that everyone else should be the paradigm of the pious christian. While, out of sight, he gets to act out as the hollywood-version pagan.

When someone tells you, that their actions to suppress your behavior? Are for your own good? And their motives are beyond questioning? Because they know whats good for you?

Which ever of you are faster on the draw? Is the one who dictates reality.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Jul 14, 2018
TheGhostofOtto1923 why don't you list examples of such laws that are relevant to this article to make an even stronger point?
ha yeah right. Why dont you Google "US laws protecting privacy" and spend a few hours on it? Start with the 4th and 5th amendments.
What reason can you give that would Microsoft want to help criminals get away with breaking laws?
Microsoft is very concerned with political correctness and the public perception that it is helping to protect the current ultraliberal interpretation of the right to privacy (to cheat and steal and lie and buy bath salts on the internet and beat up cops without getting shot. Because fists and steel-toed boots are not weapons.)
Thorium Boy
5 / 5 (1) Jul 16, 2018
Amazing how Facebook, Google, Microsoft are all for controlling invasive technologies, until they're using it themselves.

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