Microsoft Refuses to License Facial Recognition Software to Police in California

By Kehl Bayern / April 18, 2019

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Facial recognition tech is both dystopian and a huge part of the future of the field of optics and photography.

The main issue with it is that it could be used for nefarious purposes.

Image via Shane Aldendorff from Pexels.com.

Currently, we see basic facial recognition technology in every from selfie apps to how you unlock your iPhone.

But what about arming local police officers with some kind of facial recognition technology?

Of course, the imagination can run wild either way as to how many uses a government agency could put such tech to use.

Apparently, after some consideration, Microsoft has decided not to license facial recognition technology to California police departments, citing “human rights concerns.”

The technology was going to be used in body cameras and cars, The Verge reports.

“Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan…We said this technology is not your answer,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said.

The Verge also quotes an open letter from Smith written earlier this year which more clearly outlines his cautionary approach to new technologies.

“Move fast and break things’ became something of a mantra in Silicon Valley earlier this decade…But if we move too fast with facial recognition, we may find that people’s fundamental rights are being broken,” he wrote.

That said, Microsoft did license their technology to a prison in the California system but did so because it said it would “improve the safety” of the prison.

Facial recognition technology has become somewhat of a pariah in recent months mainly because there are reports of it being used by other countries around the world to monitor and control their citizens. The Verge reports that the People’s Republic of China, in particular, has “deployed facial recognition on a huge scale” and has some of the world’s leading firms in that area.


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About the author

Kehl Bayern

Kehl Bayern is our staff news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing. In terms of photography, he is interested in architecture and modern design. Kehl Bayern is also the author of science fiction thriller Animus Proxy. He is based in Boston, Massachusetts and studied politics at the University of Virginia and, later, Harvard University for graduate school. He spends much of his time traveling up and down the east coast of the United States. You can follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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