Microsoft recently confirmed that it is banning the sale of its facial recognition products to police and authorities.
Microsoft is joining the ranks of other tech giants like Amazon and IBM. These companies are responding to calls that their tech is being used to track dissidents and protesters.
On Wednesday, Amazon declares that it will no longer allow police to use its tech for a whole year. IBM followed suit, saying that it will not allow its technology to be used for mass surveillance activities.
Tech companies respond to protests
One of the foremost supporters of the campaign against mass surveillance is the American Civil Liberties Union. The group is calling tech companies to ban the use of these technologies against people, especially protesters. The group is also advocating lawmakers to push legislation against the use of such technologies.
In a recent statement, the group says:
“Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM have finally started to take action. But we still have a long way to go to forever end the over-policing and surveillance of black and brown communities.”
Many tech giants have huge investments in facial recognition technology. Such technology is already present in some smartphones and other devices. However, the same technology is also being used by some authorities to track down their targets.
Microsoft says it will not sell facial recognition technology to police departments in the United States, at least until there is a federal law to regulate the technology https://t.co/O8iSTelwEG
— CNN (@CNN) June 11, 2020
The rise of dissent and protests over the killing of George Floyd has brought up concerns about the use of facial technology. Some privacy advocates claim that the police use this technology for tracking protesters and racial profiling. These are just some of the issues the protesters are fighting for.
Privacy and mass data gathering
Microsoft is not the only company that faces accusations of breaching user privacy and data gathering. Companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google are facing the same accusations from civil liberty groups.
Tech companies have a long and storied history of working with authorities. However, as protests around the country are starting to peak, tech companies are distancing themselves from the government.
Despite accusations of working with the authorities, many tech companies are taking the side of protesters. These companies also call for legislation to help regulate the use of technologies like facial recognition. Moreover, many tech companies lean toward libertarian politics.
According to Microsoft, there should be a law that explicitly says authorities can use facial recognition technologies. That is why the tech giant is advocating politicians to create legislation that will properly regulate such technologies.
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