Microsoft has reportedly refused to provide California law enforcement with access to its facial recognition technology for use in police body cameras and cars.
The Verge reports that Microsoft refused California law enforcement request to utilize the company’s facial recognition software in police body cameras and cars. Microsoft president Brad Smith stated at an event at Stanford University that the company worried that the technology would disproportionately affect women and minorities — facial recognition A.I. has long been criticized for inherent bias and a high error rate when not identifying white males.
Smith discussed the police forces plans for the software stating: “Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan. We said this technology is not your answer.” E-commerce and web hosting giant Amazon has not had the same ethical qualms as Microsoft, regularly selling facial recognition technology to law enforcement despite protests from employees and shareholders. Google has, surprisingly, refused to sell its facial recognition technology entirely.
Microsoft has repeatedly called for federal regulation on facial recognition and A.I., with Smith writing in an open letter earlier this year: “‘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.”
Smith also claimed that Microsoft turned down a deal to install facial recognition in cameras in the capital city of an unnamed country, but many have speculated that this country may have been China which has deployed facial recognition on a large scale as part of a crackdown on the countries Muslim minority. Microsoft is not opposed to selling its facial recognition tech entirely, however, selling it to an American prison “after the company concluded that the environment would be limited and that it would improve safety inside the unnamed institution.”