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MIT Technology Review

Microsoft wants the government to regulate face recognition software

Big tech companies don’t typically ask the feds to supervise new technologies, but the software giant says it wants to hear from Washington.

A view from the top: Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith wrote in a blog post Friday that the company is asking Congress to regulate AI-powered face recognition software. “There will always be debates about the details, and the details matter greatly,” Smith wrote. “But a world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards.”

What should they regulate? Smith outlined questions he thinks officials should discuss including:

     -  Should law enforcement’s use of facial recognition be subject to human oversight and controls?
     -  What types of legal measures can prevent use of facial recognition for racial profiling and other violations of rights, while still permitting beneficial uses of the technology?
     -  Should the government create processes that afford legal rights to individuals who believe they have been misidentified by a facial recognition system?

Why this matters: The tech industry is known for avoiding government intervention, not encouraging it. The call shows Microsoft’s hope to avoid being lumped in with some of its counterparts, which have faced major privacy scandals in recent months.