Microsoft Won't Sell Its Facial Recognition Technology Fearing Human Rights Violations
Photo Credit: Microsoft logo exhibited during the Mobile World Congress, on February 28, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Joan Cros/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Microsoft Won't Sell Its Facial Recognition Technology Fearing Human Rights Violations

California law enforcement will not be using Microsoft’s facial recognition technology after the company turned down sales over concerns of human rights violations, according to Reuters. 

California law enforcement wanted to install Microsoft’s system into cars and body cameras. The company denied the request, citing that the facial recognition tools had only been fed images of white males, which would lead to disproportionate questioning of women and minorities.

Microsoft has been vocal about fears on how facial recognition AI can be used to over-police underrepresented groups. In December, Microsoft President Brad Smith called for more government regulation on facial recognition technologies during a speech. In January, the ACLU and a list of other civil rights groups called for big tech companies to stop selling facial recognition technology to governments. Amazon later joined Microsoft in the push for more legislation. 

It is unclear which California city wanted to use Microsoft’s technology; however, San Francisco police are trying to stop a city ban on facial recognition surveillance. San Francisco’s lawmakers proposed the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance in February that would require law enforcement to get city board approval to use facial recognition AI.

Smith also said that Microsoft denied the request of an unnamed country for the use of the technology. However, as Microsoft continues to develop its AI, it may be leading the way for tech companies to responsibly distribute their tools.