Following Amazon, Microsoft will no longer sell facial-recognition software to police

Following Amazon, Microsoft will no longer sell facial-recognition software to police

Following Amazon, Microsoft will no longer sell facial-recognition software to police

Three tech giants - Amazon, Microsoft and IBM - all said this week they will not sell facial recognition technology to police.

Microsoft's announcement follows International Business Machines Corp's (IBM) decision on Monday to exit the facial recognition market, and Amazon's move on Wednesday to halt sales to police departments for one year.

Facial recognition is used by companies for wide uses, including letting users unlock their phones or other electronic devices and automatically tagging friends in social media photos.

Members of Congress have noted that facial recognition has been used as part of federal surveillance of the protests and privacy and racial justice advocates have long warned about the technology's use by law enforcement. IBM took a stricter stance and completely pulled out of general objective facial recognition software. Microsoft has now announced that it won't start sales to United States police departments until the country approves national regulation of the technology, grounded in human rights.

Driven to action by country-wide protests in the USA following the death of George Floyd, tech giants are calling for the introduction of new regulations to prevent facial recognition contributing to discrimination. "But I do think this is a moment in time that really calls on us to listen more, to learn more and most importantly to do more".

Richard Grenell, former acting director of national intelligence under the Trump administration, wrote in a Thursday Twitter post that "they [Microsoft] should now be banned from federal contracts - there should be consequences for not selling technology to police departments".

This is what company president Brad Smith said during an interview.

Smith's comments come after Amazon put a one-year moratorium on allowing police to use its "Rekognition" technology.

It was the week that big tech slammed the brakes on development of facial recognition systems.

"We have focused on this issue for two years", he replied. "That is the only way to guarantee that we will protect people's lives". Smith said Thursday that Microsoft now doesn't sell its face recognition software to any USA police departments.

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