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Microsoft is also blocking police facial recognition software

Icon image for face recognition

Amazon and IBM no longer supply facial recognition software to the US police. Now the Microsoft group is joining. At least until a legal regulation has been made.

After Amazon and IBM, Microsoft will also not provide automatic facial recognition software to the United States police. Such technology is currently not sold to police authorities, the US technology group said. This will not happen until there is a regulation by federal law. The legal framework for this must be based on human rights, said the group’s chief legal officer, Brad Smith, at a Washington Post event.

Amazon had previously suspended supply of the police with facial recognition software “Rekognition” for one year. IBM got out of business this week. Recently, criticism of the widespread use of facial recognition has increased in the United States, because it enables surveillance of people and discrimination against individual population groups. Cities like San Francisco already prohibit use. Civil rights activists have shown concern after the violent death of African American George Floyd that the use of such programs could lead to unjustified arrests during demonstrations.

Pros and cons

In face recognition, camera images are compared with databases to identify individual people. Respond to supporters, so that crimes can be solved more quickly. The police also have other options. At the beginning of the year, Clearview AI caused a sensation, simply compiling a database of millions of publicly available photos from online services. Google, YouTube and Twitter asked the company not to take pictures.

The public debate about discrimination against blacks and other minorities had gained momentum in a brutal police operation in the past few weeks after the death of African American George Floyd. Nationwide protests against racism took place.

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