Microsoft’s facial recognition technology will abide by these six principles

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December 10, 2018
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zIn July, Microsoft talked about the problems with existing facial recognition technologies. They called upon the government to regulate the technology brings “exciting societal benefits but also the potential for abuse.” Since then Microsoft has been studying the issue and now they have finally come out with guiding principles for facial recognition.
In their official blog post, Microsoft talked about how they are driving the technology to new heights and how their algorithms are top ranked. But at the same, they talked about 3 core problems that require legislation.

    • There is a chance of decisions and outcomes being biased
    • There widespread of technology can lead to a new intrusion into people’s privacy
    • Use of facial recognition by governments can “encroach on democratic freedoms.”

Microsoft has offered suggestions to the government to fix these issues. Regarding the first issue, Microsoft called for laws ensuring transparency from tech companies in their documentation. They also want to enable third parties and services to test and evaluate the different technologies that are being offered. The second place where Microsoft believes that despite advances in technology, human judgment should be made compulsory in “consequential use cases” and to avoid the use of unlawful discrimination. Lastly, Microsoft said that it should be made a law to notify users when such technology is being used. They also called upon the government to limit their surveillance to avoid breaching into democratic freedom.
Microsoft said that while government initiative was necessary, companies should also take initiative and try to avoid such inconveniences. For this Microsoft has laid out its six guiding principles:

    • Fairness. We will work to develop and deploy facial recognition technology in a manner that strives to treat all people fairly.
    • Transparency. We will document and clearly communicate the capabilities and limitations of facial recognition technology.
    • Accountability. We will encourage and help our customers to deploy facial recognition technology in a manner that ensures an appropriate level of human control for uses that may affect people in consequential ways.
    • Nondiscrimination. We will prohibit in our terms of service the use of facial recognition technology to engage in unlawful discrimination.
    • Notice and consent. We will encourage private sector customers to provide notice and secure consent for the deployment of facial recognition technologies.
    • Lawful surveillance. We will advocate for safeguards for people’s democratic freedoms in law enforcement surveillance scenarios, and will not deploy facial recognition technology in scenarios that we believe will put these freedoms at risk.

Microsoft will be sharing more about their vision and their plans for combating misuse of the technology in the future, so stay tuned.

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